The Importance of Flexibility, Choice and Customer Protection in the New Normal
The travel industry has entered a new, inherently hopeful stage of recovery. In mid-2022, global travel bookings surpassed pre-pandemic levels as leisure and business travellers planned their next adventures. It was a moment of triumph for the industry, but there is still more than can be done to improve experiences for travellers. In this next stage of recovery, travel providers must prioritise flexibility, choice and customer protection.
Post-pandemic, consumers demand flexibility from travel providers (and consumer-facing brands in general). Some people will still feel hesitant to travel after the pandemic and will search for providers that offer them flexible bookings, such as the option to reschedule last minute and free cancellation.
Travel brands that do not offer flexible policies will be more likely to struggle to attract customers, and when they do, they risk creating negative customer experiences that prompt a backlash. With 86 per cent of consumers leaving a brand after just two poor customer experiences, travel companies can’t afford to lack flexibility. Companies that deliver personalised and flexible travel experiences will attract and retain more customers than their less flexible competitors.
More Choice and Personalisation
More than ever, travel providers must offer their travellers plenty of choices. People are keen to travel and continue making up for lost time, and the companies that can offer them various options at good value will be the winners. Offering a wide selection of choices allows travellers to find the right arrangements to suit their needs and personal preferences.
Travel companies also need to prioritise delivering personalised experiences to keep customers coming back for more. Consumers are seeking tailor-made experiences that align with their preferences and requirements—57 per cent of tourists believe that brands should personalise shopping experiences based on their behaviours, personal preferences and past choices.
Prioritise Customer Confidence and Protection
The events of the pandemic burned many travellers as their holidays and trips were cancelled, and refunds were extremely difficult to come by. Some didn’t get any money back, as the travel firms they booked with collapsed. Now, customers want to know their payments are protected. To assure customers that their money is safe, some travel businesses opt for trust accounts, where customer money is segregated from other firm funds until the booking has taken place.
Additionally, many travel companies are offering comprehensive insurance policies that cover various circumstances, such as delays, cancellations and other issues. Offering insurance policies gives travellers peace of mind that their money is protected, and they’re not going to miss out financially if they cannot travel for various reasons.
There are other steps travel businesses should take to boost customer confidence. For example, obtaining industry certifications and affiliations serves as an indicator of a company’s commitment to customer protection, assuring customers that their interests are the main priority.
The new normal in the travel industry calls for a heightened focus on flexibility, choice and personalisation, and customer protection. Travel providers must take steps to meet the ever-evolving needs of their customers by offering flexible booking policies wherever possible and an extensive range of travel options. Simultaneously, travel companies can increase customer confidence by being transparent about policies and providing comprehensive insurance policies that give travellers peace of mind that their money is protected should anything go wrong. By embracing these strategies, travel companies can navigate this hopeful stage of travel recovery by attracting and retaining travellers.