The human side of booking holidays: the role of agents and travel support
The internet has changed the way that we search, plan, and book our holidays. The demand for planning and booking holidays online will keep increasing in the coming years and in some market sectors (i.e. young travellers, last minute trips…) will overtake the offline demand. Despite the impact of the internet on the sector, the human touch will always remain an important factor in the trade.
In the good old days prior to the internet, the client went along to their local travel agent and booked whatever suited their budget. The local travel agent was King and built up a relationship with their clients. As long as the holiday went well, they went back year after year to the same travel agent. Their experience and ability to propose suitable holiday packages to customers guaranteed sales and repeat business.
Booking your holidays through travel agents was the norm but now it is the exception as dedicated online booking sites have made major inroads into the market.
Nowadays, the internet has eliminated the human element as you can take a tour of the hotel via their website and check past customer reviews so clients believe they are making an informed decision and don’t need to speak to an expert.
Online travel agencies and third party websites (e.g. Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com…) provide future holiday-makers with the tools to search and book their holidays.
It makes sense to book your holidays using online sites as they are less expensive due to economies of scale. They are fantastic when everything goes according to plan but if you have a problem the first port of call for a lot of people will always be the telephone. Clients need to have 24-hour access to customer support for cancellation requests, change of dates due to an emergency, modifications to travel plans, emergencies and just general questions such as, is the hotel near a town, do they have a shop on-site, do they have a laundrette on site.
The role of the customer support team is vitally important at all stages of the customer journey. In order to replicate the long term relationship, the travel agent had with their clients the human touch has to be a part of the mix.
The human touch before booking holidays
- Longer call duration as clients want to be assured they are making the right decision
- Looking for advice and recommendations
- Support promotional campaigns
- Always ensure that you give good value to past customers or those who contact you directly.
- Using a CRM is a great way to keep track of past customers.
The human touch while booking holidays
- Last minutes enquiries
- Processing payment
- Up-selling opportunities
The human touch in the post-booking process
- The most important
- Cancellations / refunds
- Emergencies enquiries