Online travel will continue to evolve in 2017 as new devices, technology and traveler preferences emerge. Travelers are taking advantage of a wider variety of tools, platforms and services inspired by innovative new technologies to help them plan the trips of their dreams, and travel marketers must keep up if they are to attract these increasingly demanding consumers. Teleperformance’s omnichannel customer experience solutions help Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) keep up with the evolving online travel landscape, designing customizable and industry-specific interaction channels to guarantee satisfaction. According to research by Teleperformance, 83 percent of OTA customers contact customer service. Their experience matters. Because a negative experience reduces their loyalty intention by nearly 30 percent.
Be prepared! Here are some of the latest trends in online travel that we will be facing in 2017:
Travelers Seek Reviews They Can Trust
As the internet has given travelers unprecedented access to information from experts and peers about travel experiences, the importance of user-generated content and reviews is key. Travelers want to be able to research options, read about other people’s experiences and compare alternatives thoroughly. They also want to make decisions based on information they feel is authentic, and coming from someone who shares their values.
Ninety-five percent of respondents in a survey by TrustYou always read reviews before booking, and leisure travelers read an average of six to seven reviews about a location, service or excursion before booking. Another study from Worms University of Applied Science revealed that in 2014, 70% of travelers read up to 20 reviews while planning, and one major site claimed that in 2015, 200 new reviews or contributions were uploaded to their site per minute.
For this reason, it will continue to be essential that travel-related businesses and brands find a way to not only curate a social media presence that attracts travelers in the planning stage, but also provide clients with a level of service they will rave about – because either way, they are probably going to leave reviews.
Millennials and Gen X Have Different Channel, Travel Preferences
Millennials and Generation X are some of the most coveted demographics of travelers thanks to the size of the market they occupy as well as their adventurous spirits. But they are two completely different groups of people who require increasingly targeted customer experiences.
Millennials are particularly hooked on mobile: Forty-nine percent book travel directly on their phones and tablets, and 74 percent search for travel related information on their mobile devices (https://stayplanner.com/blog/millennial-travel-trends-2017). They use social media and chat more heavily than other generations to contact OTAs. They are engaged and enjoy researching trips in order to ensure the most authentic and unique travel experiences. Niches like sustainable travel lead them to destinations and accommodations with a “greener” focus, and toward the sharing economy.
Generation X also puts a high premium on authenticity, but is particularly focused on taking vacations that are worth the money. This generation prioritizes routine and familiarity the same way that Generation X seeks uniqueness, a sense of connection and collaboration.
Most importantly, different generations prefer to use completely different channels for customer service interactions, and OTAs must be equipped for this. Teleperformance’s Customer Experience Lab revealed that Baby Boomers expect OTAs to improve their traditional channels such as voice calling, while younger, more mobile-savvy travelers will likely be drawn to web or mobile-device customer service interfaces (including click-to-chat, e-mail, social media, SMS and more) that can be accessed easily via digital devices.
Chatbots, Voice-Based Among Most Valuable Tools
OTAs gain access to a wider range of technological tools to improve the customer journey in the travel sector every year. Teleperformance’s research revealed that chat is the third-most preferred customer service channel, which is good for OTAs, as chat allows them to gather customer data through required fields and provides customers with immediate assistance on a variety of devices. Chat gives customer service representatives a way to assist multiple customers at once with ease.
The emergence of chatbots has made this kind of service even more attainable. Chatbots allow representatives from OTAs the opportunity to chat with individuals in messaging platforms and apps have enabled unparalleled personalization and service for booking, organizing logistics and seeking assistance during planning. They also allow these companies to assist users that have abandoned the booking process. The largest booking sites have already installed multilingual chatbots that translate conversations instantly.
Voice-based search is another big trend, as travelers are increasingly using their mobile devices for assistance once on the ground. Other OTAs have launched their own services, which allow users to ask for reservation details or search for hotel information. While this is a new trend that will surely evolve in 2017, it is sure to be key in delivering seamless service through all stages of travel.
Travelers Use Different Devices Along Travel Journey
Today’s consumers have particular preferences about channels and whose reviews they will trust, but when it comes to devices, OTAs need to be ready to serve clients on all of them. Travelers often use multiple devices throughout the purchase and travel experience, which means OTAs much offer them more touch points to reach their agents.
This poses a unique challenge for online travel agencies as they search for ways to track and satisfy customers who may be using multiple devices to fulfill their various needs. In general, the tendency is that customers are drifting from desktop to mobile, (and soon, smart watches). Teleperformance can help give OTAs the tools they need to be prepared for the different ways that customers will want to connect to brands.