Travel demand is surging…is your brand ready?
Learn how to prepare for substantial surges in contact volume while innovating on customer experience to drive revenue and increase customer satisfaction during fluctuating travel demand.
Call it a comeback
Consumer research reveals pent up travel demand. “Boosted by the strong economy and the vaccines, the pent-up demand might finally become real,” states a report released by Skift in April 2021. This report showed that 90% of American consumers planned to travel in 2021.
Data from the Transportation Security Administration confirms this, showing over a 1,200% year-over-year increase in travelers passing through airport security, jumping from 3 million in April 2020 to 40 million in April 2021. And these figures have not restored to pre-pandemic levels, where 67 million travelers passed through airport security in April 2019. The surge has not yet reached its peak.
Intent data uncovers high volume of COVID-19-related inquiries
Intent data, drawn from LivePerson’s Conversational Cloud, shows a recent spike in the number of consumer-to-brand messaging interactions across the travel industry. In addition to standard questions related to making and managing reservations, there is an entirely new set of COVID-19-related inquiries, such as the application of travel credits.
Our data shows these new inquiries make up 25% of the overall messaging volume for brands in travel industry sectors. Brands will need to prepare for a combination of more conversations overall and more messages going back and forth within each individual traveler conversation.
Hard-hit travel brands are operating at historically low capacities
In response to the pandemic, brands in travel sectors have reduced their operational footprint, with some declaring bankruptcy. A COVID-19 impact assessment conducted by IATA said, “Two-thirds of the world’s aircraft fleet has been parked, and 18 airlines have filed for bankruptcy in a matter of months.” In terms of net losses, IATA reported in November 2020 that the global airline industry is estimated to lose $118.5 billion in 2020 and $38.7 billion in 2021.
As a result, unemployment across travel sectors has soared as millions have been furloughed or laid off. The New York Times reported in March 2021 that in the aviation sector alone, the labor footprint dropped 43% from pre-pandemic levels in 2020.
However, striking a tone of optimism in a report co-authored by Skift Research and McKinsey, travel brands were advised to “seize this reset moment to embrace and preserve their crisis-induced agility and nimbleness.” So how can brands address the travel demand and consumer contact surge while building in operational agility and a richer consumer experience?
Brands need “surge protection” for fluctuations in travel demand
LivePerson’s Gainshare, a contact center as a service (CCaaS) managed solution that runs on the LivePerson Conversational Cloud. With AI-powered messaging, a decentralized network of agents, and simple, outcome-based pricing, it acts as a “surge protector” for predictable — and unpredictable — fluctuations in sales and service travel demands. Tailored to a brand’s needs and desired outcomes, this solution can range from a seamless extension of existing operations to a full end-to-end alternative.
The Conversational Cloud makes it possible for brands to use AI-powered messaging to create a continuous connection with travelers in their channel of choice, throughout each stage of their journey. LivePerson’s industry-leading natural language understanding (NLU) analyzes messages in real time, providing insight into traveler intentions behind surges in inquiries. By leveraging this powerful intent data, brands can easily build, launch, and tune bots that can assist with or even fully contain customer queries. Plus, with access to a network of expert agents, brands can scale support for more sensitive or complex queries.
This solution has already helped top brands transform and manage their contact centers through a range of circumstances. For example, a mainline US airline was able to leverage LivePerson’s CCaaS to quickly identify and respond to an unpredicted surge in service inquiries related to an earthquake in a region they serviced.
Facilitate seamless, 24/7 operations with this decentralized model. Unlike the traditional centralized contact center model, decentralization frees staff to work from anywhere. This reduces the risks associated with a centralized location, such as weather conditions, natural disasters, pandemics, and other often unforeseen circumstances. Further, the outcome-based pricing allows brands to be nimble, no matter the circumstance, with the ability to ramp agent capacity up and down as needed without updating service agreements.
This cost-effective approach ensures consistent delivery of the highest return on investment for brands. A top 5 global airline reduced operational expenses by 50% while maintaining a CSAT of 85%, and a top 10 US retailer saw over $500 million in incremental revenue.