Customer Communication in the hospitality and tourism industry is rapidly changing due to industry events. The hospitality and tourism industry took one of its biggest hits in 2020. According to the U.S. Travel Association, international travel and business travel showed the sharpest declines due to COVID-19. Global travel spending in the U.S. fell 76%, while business travel spending fell 70%.
The hospitality and tourism industry continues to struggle as the pandemic still significantly affects worldwide travel. According to AHLA (American Hotel & Lodging Association), hotels in the U.S. alone have lost more than $46 billion in room revenue since mid-February 2021. Experts estimate hotels will lose up to $400 million in room revenue per day. Individual hotels and major operators are predicting occupancy below 20%, according to AHLA. Even when the outbreak will eventually pass, it could take up to 12 months for the industry to recover.
A critical factor in the hospitality and tourism industry is brands’ connection with their customers and how they communicate. A few years ago, travel agencies were the popular setup, but nowadays, most travel bookings are through digital channels. This drastic change requires adapting and creates new challenges for the hospitality and tourism industry.
We’ll take a deep look into these challenges and offer a solution for each.
Top 5 Customer Communication Challenges in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry
1.Travelers’ Growing Demand for Digital Customer Service
Consumers’ growing communication using digital devices created higher customer communication standards for travel. McKinsey points that digital services as vital for travelers: more than 40% of U.S. travelers in 2019 used mobile devices to book their trips.
McKinsey predicts that Covid-19 is likely to accelerate the shift to digital as travelers look for flexibility and booking lead times shorten: more than 90% of recent trips in China were booked within seven days of the trip itself.
McKinsey also points that many tourism businesses have struggled to keep up with changing consumer preferences around digital. In particular, many tourism SMEs have not been fully able to integrate new digital capabilities in the way that larger businesses have, with barriers including language issues and low levels of digital fluency.
Solution: Drive digital transformation in your business.
Overcoming this challenge, also highlighted by McKinsey, requires hospitality businesses to undergo a digital transformation process to enhance their business with digital customer service capabilities.
We recently published a free guide that dives deep into this subject:
2. Multi-channel Standards for Customer Communication
Consumers’ growing use of digital devices created new standards for customer service and communication. Customers expect hospitality brands to deliver service digitally, as mentioned. Still, most of them (71%, according to McKinsey) also expect it to be through multiple communication channels that usually use such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Chat, e-mail, and more.
Rising customer expectations presents a new challenge for the hospitality and tourism industry – providing digital customer service through each separate channel is time-consuming and ineffective. Therefore, companies must communicate with travelers through multiple channels to create a unified customer experience.
Solution: Implement an omnichannel customer communication platform.
Overcoming this challenge requires hospitality companies to implement an omnichannel customer communication solution that can direct all the customers’ queries from any digital platform to one smart inbox and manage all customer communication from a single dashboard.
3.Slow response time and ineffective service
Customers are becoming more demanding of immediate response, even within an hour when using digital channels. Providing quick response through traditional channels is very costly, slow, and inefficient, especially for travelers who occasionally book a last-minute reservation and need immediate answers about their potential room.
Solution: Implement AI and automation capabilities in your operational systems.
To avoid extensive costs, improve response time and customer satisfaction, every hotel or hospitality business must implement a technological solution that can provide automated customer service from the very first moment.
AI service bots can also resolve the slow service delivery and responsiveness issue by immediately replying to every initial request and engaging with customers from the very first moment, without the need for human intervention. These abilities ensure higher customer satisfaction and a unique customer experience.
Improving customer service through tech can generate significant benefits for the hospitality industry: 135% increase in online revenue, 71% reduction in guest complaints, and 19% increase in customer service ratings, according to PWC accountant firm.
4.Security and Privacy
According to McKinsey, most travel booking is taken through digital channels – about 60% of Europe and the U.S. bookings are digital. Customers feel comfortable booking a reservation through multiple platforms and apps, uploading photos, and inserting credit card details, all because they trust that brands will keep their information safe and secure.
One minor breach in a large hotel group’s system can leave the information wide open for hackers that can steal it, use it to cause tremendous damage, and ruin years of brand reputation.
Solution: Adopt a secured GDPR-compliant customer communication platform
This issue requires every company, especially travel businesses, to have the most secure systems to withstand every cyber-attack and keep their clients’ privacy. The way to ensure system security is to secure your database and your customer service with a secured customer service software of the highest standards, which is also GDPR-compliant.
5. Customer Loyalty
Travelers have an endless variety of accommodation possibilities and can easily choose another brand if it offers a better price, location, or special benefits. In a world full of travel websites such as Booking.com, Hotels.com, Airbnb.com, and more, a brand must be unique to attract more customers.
One common approach is to have loyalty programs that grant points to loyal customers, who can later use these points for serviced and trips from that specific brand. Travelers appreciate these points and 85% agreed that earning points they can use for personal trips is important. 84% of travelers consider it a perk of business travel.
Solution: Use technology to establish positive brand-customer relationships and maintain loyalty.
Keep in touch with your loyal customers through a smart customer relations management platform that will automatically inform travelers of occasional opportunities through digital channels and would enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty over time.
Overcome Digital Transformation Challenges Using Commbox Smart Customer Communication Platform
The described challenges for the hospitality and tourism industry require an all-in-one solution, a software that can manage customer communication effectively through every digital channel while maintaining the highest security standards.
Meet Commbox – an omnichannel communication platform that enhances customer experience and leads digital service, support, and sales teams to success.
Commbox helps organizations improve their customer communication by using advanced AI-based technology that engages with customers and solves issues more efficiently than ever with a smart inbox implemented in a customer communication platform.
One popular solution Commbox offers is the WhatsApp API service bot that engages with customers through their app and can do so on many other digital platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Twitter, and more. Commbox holds the highest security standards and owns GDPR compliance.
Commbox’s solution successfully transformed leading hospitality brands such as Fatal Group, one of the largest hospitality brands in Israel, with 36 hotels and 9107 rooms under its management in major tourist venues such as Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Tiberias, Dead Sea, and Eilat.
Commbox successfully transformed Fatal’s customer service to digital channels by implementing its smart solutions such as WhatsApp, Email, and Chat support for travelers booking through the website. Fatal also improved its entire customer experience using Commbox’s smart social media and messaging apps. Nowadays, Fatal hotels provide customer service through the hotel app and website, powered by Commbox.
5 Reasons Why Commbox is the Solution For your Hospitality Brand
- All-in-one omnichannel customer communication solution.
- WhatsApp API smart bots that provide friendly and effective service.
- AI and automation features that improve customer experience.
- GDPR security compliance.
- Proven success in managing Hospitality companies’ customer service.
Digital technologies keep evolving and mark a new era for the hospitality and tourism industry. As customers expect reservations and services to become more digital and multichannel, brands need to upgrade their customer service and enhance customer experience or get left behind.
Implementing an omnichannel, AI-based, and secured customer communication solution, is imperative for any hotel or hospitality brand, now more than ever.
Commbox offers an innovative solution for customer interactions, creating a holistic customer communication experience. By using the Commbox platform, companies and enterprises can automate recurring tasks that are excessively time-consuming, allowing your agents to focus on more important tasks. Commbox paves the way for autonomous business communication, without losing the quintessential human touch.
Commbox’s mission is to pave the way for companies worldwide to become autonomous enterprises, without losing their quintessential human touch.