Surfing the Growing Wave of Self-Service in the Travel and Tourism Industry

Sarah-John-and-Thomas-300x200Travel agents and tour operators are strengthening their foothold in the online arena for customers to book their next retreat, with most customers even favouring the online route over the traditional walk-in travel agent.

When comparing travel companies one of the most important things for the customer when parting with their money is customer service, and with transactions now occurring online now more than ever before, online self-service has now become the linchpin in aiding the customers and their queries.

From new families, to young globetrotters a flexible and intuitive online self-service is now a much sought after tool for the customer before or after booking, with traditional FAQs and keyword searches now being considered a thing of the past.

Giving the people what they want

A poor online experience can easily direct a customer away from one travel company and into the hands of a key competitor. Therefore an online self-service platform that serves the customer effectively and in the quickest way possible is becoming a major player in obtaining business.

Customers are becoming progressively more expectant of any organisation in the modern day, to provide an online self-service platform that meets their needs, without having to pick the phone up and call a contact centre.
A a recent report from the technology research organisation a Software Advice Software Advice, showed that 91% of customers would use an online knowledgebase if it met their needs, revealing that self-service alone is not enough to swoon the customer.

Traditionally self-service platforms are frequently and sometimes very arduously maintained. These are most commonly FAQ sections where recurrent questions are listed with answers, and keyword searches that are repeatedly found to display irrelevant answers, or worse no answers.

By coupling self-service with a Knowledge Management system that is self-learning with a Natural Language Search capability, customers have access to answers that not only self-maintain but are also highly relevant to their question. What’s more this information can be accessed through asking a question naturally, providing a more usable and customer friendly self-service platform.

Intuitive self-service in action

It is very possible that holiday makers will find the need to use a self-service portal before buying a holiday through a travel agent, but just as importantly they will also find a use for it once their holiday is booked. For example young parents Sarah and John are embarking on their first holiday with their 18 month old child Thomas, when two days before their travel they realise they have not checked whether or not their room will have a cot and baby changing facilities.
They made their booking through thetravelsale.com and need to find out quickly as they may need to make a last-minute call to the hotel to arrange a room with a cot. Luckily thetravelsale.com recently deployed a Knowledge Management system that integrates with their CRM, so John used their online knowledge base to self-serve their own question. This avoided a potentially long wait on the phone to speak to a contact agent.

Whilst on the site John entered his booking details and asked his question: “Will there be a cot in the room?” The system accessed all details of his stay to give him an exact answer as well as providing information on who he should call in the case that this arrangement had not been made. John was able to find the answer to his query in seconds using his own words, and was subsequently guided to their hotel’s cot request form.

What are the benefits of a Knowledge Management system to the travel and tourism industry?

Knowledge Management can benefit travel agents in a number of ways with key improvements seen in:
• Productivity of contact centre agents (less common call handling = more training)
• Business operational costs – fewer contact agents are needed leading to a reduction in employment costs
• Sales and company reputation – customers can buy with the confidence that they will receive all the help they may need, and will be sure to book their next trip with your travel agency.

Customers are also able to reap the benefits of a Knowledge Management solution. Reducing the customer’s waiting time and the empowerment of taking control of their customer journey are just two aspects that are sure to enrich the customer journey.

For more information on how Knowledge Management can benefit your travel company download our white paper: