How the Travel Sector can prepare for the 'bounce'

Like many others, the travel industry has been in a ‘forced pause’ for some time, but with vaccine rollouts picking up pace in the UK and worldwide, hope is on the horizon.

People are desperate to go on holiday following a year of disruption and staying at home (almost half of travellers expect to feel ready to fly again within the next six months) and while it’s not clear whether we’ll be able to travel abroad or not this year, UK-based travel businesses are already seeing a boom in bookings

The travel industry will undoubtedly bounce back as soon as the world opens back up, but don’t expect everything to go back to how it was before. Your customers, and their expectations, have changed. You’ll need to forge new relationships, rebuild trust and provide a better customer experience than ever before if you want to survive and thrive in a post-Covid world.

“It’s tempting to treat an expected wave of demand with enthusiasm and relief, but I would urge the industry to really take the time and opportunity to optimise their available resource during this period,” says Tony Wheble, Chairman and Acting CEO of Feefo. “In my opinion, it should be a prime time to plan, prepare, improve or fine-tune your core product offering.”

An influx of bookings means an influx of data, and this data will be a key resource that could be the difference between creating a loyal customer base or just lots of one-time bookings. 

Let’s take a look at how your travel business should prepare to make the most of the bounce.

Don’t just focus on the booking experience

So many travel firms make the mistake of only asking for customer feedback at the booking stage, but this doesn’t reflect a customers’ entire experience with you. Sure, your booking process might be nice and straightforward, but how easy is it for someone to get in touch with your customer service team? How do your customers feel when they come home from their trip? 

By not collecting feedback at multiple touchpoints, you are missing out on so much insight which you could otherwise be using to perfect your customer experience to a tee. To truly deliver an amazing service when all those bookings start coming in, and to make sure those customers keep coming back, now’s the perfect time to start collecting feedback across the entire customer journey.

Understand how your customers are really feeling 

Don’t assume your customers are the same as they once were; their wants, needs and attitudes are going to be very different to how they were pre-pandemic. Safety has, unsurprisingly, become the top priority for peoples’ overseas holiday plans, for example. 

Knowing what their priorities are, and how they’re changing, is key to hitting customers’ expectations and making sure they book with you again. Naturally, these expectations and emotions will change throughout their experience with you, so make sure you’re measuring how your customers are feeling throughout their experience with you, so you can pinpoint where their opinions change any why. 

Identify which areas of your business make the biggest impact on your customers

If you want to collect feedback at various stages of the customer journey, you need to decide which touchpoints matter most to your business. Think about the stages of the journey that your customers care about most. For example, right now you may wish to focus on how your customer service team is performing, as so many holidaymakers are getting in touch to reschedule trips or are reaching out to ask for advice and information. 

Not all the feedback you collect has to go public. Your post-booking and post-holiday reviews will be important for building trust with holidaymakers considering using your business, but you may want the feedback on your customer service team to be for internal use only. 

Focus on rebuilding trust

The first half of 2020 was not easy for travel businesses or holidaymakers. Confusion around cancellations and refunds meant some customers unfortunately got stung with a poor experience, with some still waiting to get their money back. Although most travel businesses have operated as best they can, especially with reduced staff, it’s fair to say there’s some distrust in the industry now, which will affect how people book holidays moving forward.

“There was without doubt a necessity to create process on the fly,” says Tony. “The circumstances were more than unusual and as a consequence of that, some process that were created have possibly contributed to some mistrust early on in 2020.”

“I think as a whole, the industry has suffered some reputation damage and some confidence issues with the consumer. The whole sector needs to really communicate and behave more consistently to build confidence and regain customer trust.”

The travel industry has never been shaken so fundamentally. During this pandemic, it’s had to deal with fluctuating travel corridors, travel bans, Covid testing, tier-based restrictions, and lockdowns. The ever-changing rules have been confusing for consumers too, so understandably there’s a bit of fatigue around booking and reorganising holidays.

This loss in confidence means travellers want reassurance that their providers aren’t going to let them down, no matter what happens. Customer reviews have always been important in the travel industry - 45% of people read multiple reviews when booking holidays, flights and rail trips – but now they’re going to be more important than ever.

If you haven’t been collecting feedback through 2020, it’s going to be hard to show you’re a trusted business that offers exceptional experiences. When the customers come flooding back, it’s vital that you’re ready to start collecting reviews straight away, so you can instantly start building that trust again, as well as make sure that you’re delivering the experience you promised.

Don’t forget to display that feedback too. Customer reviews are an excellent trust signal that can be displayed across your website and across your online and offline marketing campaigns. 

Start preparing for the bounce back today

Nobody really know when international travel is going to reopen yet, but when that rush comes you need to be prepared to make the most of it. Whatever insight you’re hoping to get from your customers, we can help.

At Feefo, we make it easy to collect the feedback and insight you need to improve your customer experience and build a better business. Our platform has lots of great tools, including Campaign Manager Tool, which allows you to ask for feedback at every stage of the customer journey. You can even tailor your campaigns to different types of customers.

By personalising your messages when asking for feedback, and by asking for more specific feedback, you could hugely increase the number of reviews you collect, which will give you so much value insight into your business. One Feefo client managed to use Campaign Manager Tool to increase feedback response rates by 331%!

If you’d like to give Feefo a try, we have an offer exclusive to ITT Members. Join Feefo today and get our Campaign Manager Tool for free for six months! To claim this offer, just call our sales team on 020 3196 8098 and quote the special code all Members have received by email.