How Travel Companies Can Deliver Great CX During the Summer Vacation Rush

Steve Davies July 19, 2023

We’re heading toward, or (depending on your location) firmly in the middle of, the great summer getaway. The travel restrictions and worries from the not-too-distant past are having less impact on people’s plans.

The number of Americans planning to take a vacation this year has risen by 4% to 50%. Twenty percent are planning a “marquee” trip to make up for what they missed out on during the pandemic—great CX can be the difference between customers deciding whether they should book their trip with you or a rival.

2023 has already seen the number of people travelling exceed pre-pandemic levels. TSA Administrator David Pekoske said “In January, we experienced our first full month where travel volumes exceeded the same month in 2019. We fully expect to see an upward trend in travel volumes throughout 2023.”

So how well-prepared is the industry for the summer rush?

Travel Company Execs Are Confident in Their CX Strategies

According to Verint’s Engagement Capacity Gap research, CX leaders in the travel industry think they are well set for the summer.

Nearly three-fourths of respondents back their company’s ability to deliver exceptional CX—only the retail and financial services industries had more highly confident executives.

Their collective confidence has been built through a series of new solutions and strategies implemented over the last few years. More than half (56%) have been highly effective connecting interactions across multiple channels and providing self-service options on digital channels (59%), as well as rolling out chatbots and expanding AI and automation across their engagement channels.

Despite the industry’s high confidence in CX delivery, there are worries about the workforce. The surge in customer volume and interactions over the busiest traveling months of the year requires highly skilled and well-staffed customer-facing teams.

So, with more than 40% of execs finding issues such as candidate selection, retention, coaching and training, and empowering employees with tools and knowledge highly challenging, the confidence built through shrewd investment and implementation could easily be impacted by talent management issues and affect customer experience.

6 CX Strategies for Flying High During the Summer Surge

Use Your Experience to Plan Ahead

It may be the first customer volume surge of the year, but it definitely isn’t the first rush an airline or car rental company has seen during a summer. Leverage data from previous years to forecast where and when the biggest volume increases are likely to happen and create schedules that ensure your contact centers, back offices, and in-person services are adequately staffed to handle the peaks.

Ease the Pressure With AI

CX automation can also be your friend here. Using AI during digital conversations means chatbots can take some of the strain for many interactions through customer self-service. Common queries such as checking flight schedules or adding baggage are easily automated through chatbots—meaning more complex queries can be handled by human agents.

Route Queries Based on Context

Once companies understand where the peaks and troughs in customer interactions will be this summer, the next step is to maximize your resources—both human and bot. By removing silos between teams and across engagement channels, companies can consistently provide high-quality experiences by routing queries to the right place, which could be a human agent, IVA (Intelligent Virtual Assistant), or knowledge base for self-service.

This can only happen if every facet of the hybrid workforce is using the same single source of truth and can easily access a customer’s contextual history of interactions across every channel.

Coaching in the Moment

Emotions can often run high when heading off on vacation. Therefore, a negative customer experience, especially during travel disruption, could easily lose you a customer for life.

Our research found that there are talent management concerns in the travel industry, particularly around coaching and training. A solution such as Verint’s Real-Time Coaching ensures the workforce can provide the right responses in the moment. The Knowledge Author bot analyzes speech and text interactions and provides guidance on responses to improve the quality across all channels, helping to ensure positive outcomes during customer conversations.

Minimize the Disruptions

Cancellations, delays, and lost luggage are an inevitable part of some customers’ summer vacations. How the company they’re traveling with responds is often the most important factor in whether they ever fly, drive or stay with them again.

Proactive engagement that gets ahead of the issue goes a long way toward making the best of a bad situation. Verint’s Self-Service bot sends alerts or notifications via messaging channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or SMS to inform customers of issues before they may even know about them.

It helps to avoid early airport arrivals while also enabling customers to make any amendments to their journey, all in the same conversation. Disruptions are often unavoidable—disgruntled customers don’t have to be.

Make Sure You’re Doing It Right

Monitoring customer sentiment across every channel is important for ensuring that minor issues don’t start having a major impact on your CX delivery. By surveying customers immediately after text or speech interactions, companies can see whether issues are one-offs or broader problems which need immediate attention.

During the summer rush, poor CX on digital channels can have the double whammy effect of frustrating customers because they can’t complete the task they set out to on a website or app, while also increasing call volumes as they explore other avenues to solve their query.

This builds unnecessary pressure on the contact center and can lead to customer attrition. Having a holistic view of how each customer touchpoint is performing enables companies to minimize the impact of any problems.

A global travel leader uses Verint to enable them to see where customers are struggling when engaging with the brand—and to fix those issues quickly before they can impact customer satisfaction.

To learn more about how Verint can improve your passengers’ experience at any time during the year, check out our Customer Engagement Challenge.