Envisioning the Future of Customer Experience in Travel, Transportation & Hospitality

We are witnessing a gradual shift in spending patterns as millennials take over workplaces and customer groups. 78% of consumers born between 1980 and 2000 would rather spend on experiences and value-adding services than products. This has led to a significant boom in the global TTH industry, with travel becoming more accessible and new destinations opening to the young tourists.

As this new demographic starts earning and thereby channeling their disposable income into the economy, Travel, Transporation and Hospitality (TTH) majors must rethink their approach to customer experiences (CX). It's not enough to simply provide a basic service and expect the customer to be satisfied. Even age-old best practices like competitive pricing or historical market leadership are giving way to new-age wants and requirements.

Let’s consider how CX in TTH is poised to change, fueled by these factors.

The Four Elements that will Make or Break CX Efficacy

1. Building a Digital Customer Journey: TTH is not a digital-native industry, and the lion’s share of customer interactions still take place on analog. Does your organization have a customer support chatbot? What is your response time for email queries? Is your website perfectly optimized for mobile, and have you conducted rigorous A/B tests to find out what works for your customer, and what doesn’t? While these may be basic marketing best practices, the TTH industry must build a solid digital foundation before embarking on a larger CX transformation journey.

2. Leveraging Data and Advanced Customer Analytics: Customers are now ready to share their personal information if they perceive a genuine addition of value. Customer analytics should be among the top investment areas for TTH, gauging engagement, feedback, brand loyalty, and possible business opportunities. There are a number of analytics solutions in the market designed specifically for TTH companies, in case home-grown solutions and in-house capabilities aren’t readily available.

3. Delivering a Seamless Multi-Channel Customer Experience: Seamlessness in CX must be driven in two ways. First, TTH companies should reach out to their customers on their preferred platforms—Instagram for millennials, Facebook for older demographics, LinkedIn for business customers, and other actionables, garnered via market research. Second, the entire customer experience from booking a flight to in-flight purchases, taking a car to the hotel, and checking into one’s room should happen in a single, unified pathway. This requires strategic partnerships among TTH companies.

4. Personalizing Key Moments of Truth: Each customer experiences specific moments that influence their decision to stay with or abandon a brand. Imagine a scenario where a high-lifetime-value customer is greeted with their favorite beverage on entering a hotel. Personalized details like this, driven by data, are key to ensuring customer loyalty to TTH companies. As analytics technology evolves further, coupled with real-time implementation capabilities, TTH providers will be able to target each traveler as a unique segment of one.

Promising Areas of Investment and the Way Forward

Interestingly, personalization emerged as the top priority for CX professionals in TTH in 2018-2019. In contrast, channel integration and voice of customer identification were the two leading priorities for 2016 and 2017, respectively. This indicates that industry experts are now acutely aware of what the millennial customer wants, as well as the opportunity costs of failing to meet expectations.

That’s why even major players like Marriot cannot afford to be complacent. Marriot International, with over 7000 properties across the world, is making deep inroads into CX transformation. From experimenting with IoT guest rooms to delivering a personalized mobile experience, the company is looking to tech-innovate CX at every level. Inspired by success stories like these, the TTH industry must relook at their existing CX models, embracing the power of digital.