This blog post is the first in iQor’s 2-part travel and hospitality CX series.

In this chapter, you’ll discover key analyst insights from McKinsey and Forrester that explain how a trusted BPO partner maximizes travel customer satisfaction through outsourced back office support. Join us now to see why a data-driven approach powered by analytics, AI, and automation equips iQor’s CX specialists to support the world’s best loved travel and hospitality brands.  

Want to learn how outsourcing safeguards travel brands and customers, secures lasting trust, and inspires positive social media engagement? Check out “Part 2: Forge Powerful Customer Trust Through Transparent and Secure CX Policies” by clicking here.

Proactive Digital + Human CX Strategies Differentiate Success With Today’s Travelers

What makes a traveler choose your brand again? In the travel and hospitality arena, where comfort and accommodation quality are key, customer experience (CX) is the cornerstone that can make or break customer satisfaction and promote repeat business.  

This article zeroes in on the characteristics of exceptional customer experience in the travel sector from the perspective of top business analysts. We explore strategies for online travel agency (OTA), airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and other industry stakeholders to implement best CX practices with support from a customer-centric outsourcing partner like iQor.  

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism are nearing full recovery from pre-pandemic levels. They predict that recovery and growth are likely to continue, with travel and tourism GDP outpacing the overall economy at an average of 5.8% per year between 2022 and 2032. 

This promising outlook explains why tourism businesses are more energized than ever about developing an effective CX approach. Nevertheless, the sector still faces significant challenges from widespread labor shortages, particularly from customer-facing roles. A sustainable future for tourism hinges on proactive strategies to align customer experience (CX) and satisfaction growth with the same upward trajectory as the industry’s overall current forecast.  

While customer-facing interactions may seem like the logical first step, we’re here to prove why back office teams, technology, and processes are equally integral to delivering unforgettable, smile-worthy travel customer experiences.

Key Insights

  • Analyst insights indicate that effective back office operations achieved in partnership with a trusted BPO play a critical role in optimizing customer satisfaction through streamlined processes and smoother customer journeys. 
  • Hyper-personalization is critical. Historical data analysis, loyalty and reward programs, tailored recommendations, and outreach and promotions are determining factors for optimal offer development through precise customer segmentation. 
  • Continuous investment in analytics, AI, automation, employee training, and secure regulatory practices is vital for optimizing customer experience in the travel and hospitality sector. 

Why the Back Office Is the First Step Toward Creating Delighted Travel Customers

Let’s explore some examples from different segments of the travel and hospitality sector. One principal analyst from Forrester notes that turbulence in the airline industry is largely connected to end-user customer experience (CX) management.  

A strong digital CX strategy is key to unlocking lasting customer engagement for travel and transportation organizations. By bridging gaps between travelers, employee teams, and brands through CX expertise, airlines and travel companies can enjoy the advantages of streamlined operations and engaged customers. 

Another Forrester Research survey reveals that 90% of customers will advocate for hotel brands when their experience makes them feel valued. Hospitality brands—from established full-service hotels and resorts to the booming short- and long-term stay marketplace—encourage positive word of mouth and brand advocacy when they provide enjoyable, relaxing stays for their guests.   

The good news? The major analyst groups are only confirming what customers are already telling business leaders loud and clear about how to deliver seamless CX: 

One solution could be to build a workforce with the mix of digital and interpersonal skills needed to keep up with travelers’ fast-changing requirements … In McKinsey’s experience, the total service cost of this type of work can make up 10 percent of total operating costs. Most often, these roles are not guest facing. A professional and digital-based solution might become an integrated part of a third-party service for [travel and hospitality businesses] looking to outsource this type of work. 

—McKinsey, “The Future of Tourism: Bridging the Labor Gap, Enhancing Customer Experience” 

Case Study Snapshot: iQor Expertly Implements Back Office RPA to Streamline US-Based Air Carrier’s Travel CX

For one major U.S.-based air carrier’s customers, the process for redeeming a voucher toward their next adventure was met with long wait times. The air carrier commissioned iQor to implement a robotic process automation (RPA) solution that simplifies the voucher redemption process.  

iQor’s solution surpassed the air carrier’s expectations by streamlining internal back office processes and significantly improving by saving over 2.5 months’ worth of wait times in one year for customers on hold.

Our airline RPA case study demonstrates how iQor:

  • Automates Repetitive Tasks. The RPA takes care of those back office tasks that, while essential, can bog down the multi-step validation process involving CRM systems, booking platforms, and payment verification. RPA automates these steps, freeing up human agents to focus on complex issues and provide immediate responses. 
  • Reduces Customer Wait Times. By eliminating manual data entry and streamlining processes, wait times dropped by a staggering 29%! This translates to less frustration for travelers and a smoother overall customer journey. 
  • Enables Swift Voucher Access. The RPA ensures relevant customer data and voucher details are captured and stored in a secure digital repository. This allows for immediate access and redemption, empowering customers to book your dream trip with ease. 

iQor is transforming the customer experience in the travel industry with our digital support solutions for air carriers. By eliminating disruptions and ensuring rapid responses, RPA empowers travel brands to deliver a seamless journey, from voucher redemption to unforgettable post-trip memories.

Self-service automation and AI support empowers customers with optimized back office CX.

Every moment of travel is integral to the overall journey experience, and travelers place a high value on efficiency. Self-service travel customer support and back office support work together to create a smoother and more satisfying customer experience. Self-service options, like FAQs, knowledge bases, robotic process automation (RPA) and AI chatbots, empower travelers to find answers and resolve simple issues independently.  

This seamless collaboration between self-service and back office support empowers travelers with control and fosters a sense of efficiency, ultimately leading to a more positive customer experience. 

Enable strategic AI chat capabilities and mitigate irregular operations with back office BPO expertise.

As AI continues to evolve, it rewrites the rule book driving 24/7 real-time customer service for travelers. AI-powered chatbots are designed to optimize disruption management, save time, and increase productivity in customer service in a sector that constantly experiences irregular operations (IROPs). 

AI chatbots can act as a bridge between travelers and the back office support team in the travel industry. While AI chatbots can handle basic inquiries and resolve simple issues directly, their true value for back office support lies elsewhere, including:

  • Initial Screening and Triage. AI chatbots can efficiently screen incoming inquiries, identify when live agent resolution is required, categorize issues resulting from IROPs, and even gather initial information from travelers.  
  • 24/7 Availability. Chatbots provide travelers with self-service options and basic support around the clock, even outside of regular business hours. This provides customer resolutions without waiting for live agent availability. 
  • Data Collection and Insights. AI chatbots can collect valuable data from traveler interactions. This data can be analyzed by back office teams to identify recurring issues, improve self-service options, and personalize future interactions. 

By partnering with a managed services provider, travel or hospitality businesses gain access to expert insights on implementing AI for back office functions. These experts can help design and scale AI policies, procedures, and tools to optimize the travel customer experience.

Transform Social Chatter Into Travel Customer Triumphs, Beginning With App and Social Media Engagement

Today’s travel landscape is a dynamic ecosystem fueled by social media, savvy customers, and the power of voice search. While this might seem overwhelming, social media monitoring reveals a treasure trove of opportunity. Here’s why:

  • Social Media Visibility. Social media enables brands to tap into the power of peer-to-peer interaction, where happy customers become your biggest advocates. By actively engaging on these platforms, you build trust and credibility, attracting new travelers eager to experience what you offer. 
  • The Voice of the Traveler. Voice search is booming, and travel is a prime target. Travelers on the go can instantly research and book experiences using simple voice commands. This means your online presence needs to be optimized for voice search, ensuring your brand pops up when those travel questions arise. 
  • Real-time Feedback Loop. Social media is a two-way street. Travelers are constantly sharing their experiences, both positive and negative. By actively monitoring these conversations, you gain valuable insights into what’s working and what needs improvement. This feedback loop allows you to continuously refine your offerings and ensure exceptional customer experiences. 

In today’s fast-paced world, customers anticipate immediate responses. Platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger cater to this demand by providing swift support, thus elevating the overall experience of customer service. 

Leveraging these messaging platforms fulfills the desire for rapid replies that customers have come to expect. SMS and apps for messaging provide a communication avenue where interactions with customers receive higher visibility and prompt action. Companies harness these widely used platforms’ convenience and user-friendly nature when they integrate them into their customer support strategy. 

From streamlining customer experience to leveraging technology for better interactions, you’ll find focused insights on boosting satisfaction and loyalty—essential for those ready to take their travel or hospitality CX to new heights with a trusted outsourcing advisor like iQor.  

Hyper-Personalization That Secures Customer Engagement, Closes Sales, and Fosters Repeat Travel Business

Remember the days of generic travel brochures promising a one-size-fits-all experience? Those are long gone. Today’s travelers crave experiences that cater to their unique desires. This is where customer segmentation and hyper-personalization enters the scene, and it’s a game-changer for travel brands. 

Imagine that you’ve booked a flight for a weekend getaway. Instantly, you start receiving personalized recommendations based on your past travel preferences. Perhaps you loved exploring hidden gems in Rome, so your inbox pops up with a curated list of off-the-beaten-path adventures in your new destination. Feeling peckish after landing? Location services suggest delicious local restaurants near your airport arrival point. 

How does hyper-personalization work in the travel industry? It’s an integrated ecosystem of components involving: 

This level of hyper-personalization is powered by historical data and targeted customer segments. By analyzing past booking trends, travel companies can predict what kind of experiences you’ll crave and tailor offer development accordingly. This elevates the travel journey and unlocks powerful upselling and loyalty-building opportunities.

Today’s travelers expect inspiration, influence, and incentives that transcend brand loyalty.

In a post-pandemic world, leisure travelers have a newfound appreciation for exploration. Despite this, brand loyalty might not be their top priority. Statistics prove that many travelers focus on leveraging points systems and reward programs to maximize value.  

With 83% booking on their phones and nearly half using voice search on-the-go, immediacy and value reign supreme. Furthermore, with 6.5 million travel influencer posts manifesting in the search algorithms of Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube, social media retains its powerful influence on the consciousness of social media-embedded, travel experience-seeking customers.

Here’s the value of hyper-personalization and customer segmentation for the travel sector: by understanding who your customers truly are—their past preferences, travel styles, and in-the-moment needs—you can create targeted experiences that resonate deeply. This goes beyond traditional loyalty programs by building genuine connections and exceeding expectations at every touchpoint. 

The travel industry is all about creating unforgettable experiences. By harnessing hyper-personalization, proactive outreach, and real-time communication channels, you can transform your brand into the go-to choice for today’s discerning traveler.

The Smart Analytics Approach to Mastering Chat And Web Support to Maximize Customer Engagement 

When travel and hospitality brands proactively reach out to travelers who might be considering booking elsewhere, they can optimize customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter score (NPS) targets. For instance, receiving an exclusive offer or a personalized message from a friendly social media ambassador might make all the difference for your choice to do business with that company and spread your word-of-mouth recommendation among your peers. 

Understanding customer preferences in real-time is crucial. Analytics tools–and the expertise to wield them–are integral for reaching customers when the customer base numbers in the millions. This data becomes the foundation for predictive net promoter score (predictive NPS) strategies powered by AI. Imagine being able to identify potential brand promoters before they even book! By proactively addressing their needs and exceeding expectations, you can cultivate loyalty and continuously improve your brand’s CX delivery model.

Unlock your travel or hospitality brand’s analytics advantage with iQor’s VALDI.

iQor ensures our travel and hospitality brands effectively bridge the gap between irresistible customer experiences and third-party back office support with our proprietary VALDI interaction analytics platform. This innovative tool goes beyond basic data collection, proactively analyzing customer interactions across all channels. We identify trends, uncover pain points, and understand customer sentiment, allowing us to tailor CX strategies for each brand.

What makes VALDI stand out?

  1. Define Customer Segments. We can analyze interactions on any platform, providing the historical data that creates a more complete picture of travel and hospitality CX.
  2. Harness Actionable Insights. Our platform does more than report issues; it identifies the root cause, enabling targeted interventions and continuous improvement. 
  3. Transcend Script Compliance. By sensing customer sentiment and distress, we take a proactive approach to addressing concerns and fostering empathy. 

Analytics acts as the bridge between understanding customer sentiment and taking actionable steps. It fuels hyper-personalized recommendations, streamlines immediate support via live chat, and ultimately, allows you to refine your offerings to create a customer journey that surpasses expectations, every single time.

Leverage back office CX technology and expertise to achieve hyper-personalized travel customer interactions.

In a marketplace defined by irregular operations (IROPs), forming partnerships with a BPO can serve as a linchpin for disruption management. iQor is a BPO that has garnered substantial expertise by working closely with preeminent OTAs, hotels, airlines, and cruise lines for 25+ years. Our robust back office processes enable unparalleled operational excellence, allowing travel and hospitality businesses to confidently navigate CX challenges and opportunities. 

In the current digital communication era, customers interact with travel and hospitality brands across many platforms. They might browse for flights on their desktops, reserve accommodations through mobile applications, and proceed to check in using airport kiosks.

Travel companies are tasked with providing an uninterrupted experience that spans all these channels. This investment in the customer journey also provides the following:

  • Well-documented histories of conversations. 
  • Detailed profiles revealing customer data and trends. 

CX technology that enables digital support channels is transforming back office operations and customer interactions. By leveraging automation tools, AI chatbots, and data analytics, back office teams can consolidate processes to ensure operational excellence. 

This translates to faster issue resolution, more efficient handling of complex cases, and the ability to personalize the customer experience. Self-service options powered by CX technology allow travelers to manage their bookings and find solutions independently, reducing wait times and frustration. Ultimately, CX technology in the back office creates a smoother journey for travelers, fostering higher satisfaction and engagement.

Reimagine Travel and Hospitality CX With a Trusted BPO

The travel and hospitality landscape is undergoing a dynamic shift. Leading analysts highlight the crucial role of back office outsourcing in streamlining operations and driving optimization. By partnering with a BPO provider, you can unlock a world of benefits, from expert customer segmentation and hyper-personalization to powerful analytics and AI that fuel exceptional self-service experiences. 

Unveil the Cybersecurity Advantage for Irresistible CX: Part 2 Awaits

This blog post offers a glimpse into the transformative power of BPO for travel and hospitality brands. The journey keeps getting better. In Part 2 of our 2-part blog series, we delve deeper into the critical role of a highly secure back office provided by a trusted BPO partner. You’ll discover how robust security becomes a mission-critical differentiator in today’s security-conscious travel landscape, fostering trust and loyalty with your guests. 

FAQ: Empowering Your Travel or Hospitality Brand With Back Office BPO Solutions

1. How can BPO back office support specifically benefit the travel industry?

Answer: BPOs offer a range of back office solutions that can maximize your travel brand’s operations: 

  • Streamlined Customer Service. BPOs can handle tasks like booking management, itinerary changes, and voucher processing, freeing up your in-house team to focus on complex inquiries and building customer relationships. 
  • Optimized Dispute Resolution. BPOs with expertise in chargeback management and dispute resolution can efficiently handle these issues, reducing costs and improving customer satisfaction. 
  • 24/7 Availability With Global Support. BPOs with geographically diverse teams can provide multilingual customer support around the clock, ensuring seamless assistance for travelers in any time zone. 
  • Data Analytics & Reporting. BPOs can analyze back office data to identify trends and inefficiencies. These insights can be used to optimize processes, reduce costs, and improve the overall customer experience. 
  • Robust Data Privacy and Security. BPOs prioritize data security with robust protocols and employee training. This ensures your sensitive customer information is safeguarded. 

2. How can BPOs leverage data analytics and AI to improve back office operations for travel brands?

Answer: BPOs can analyze back office data from various sources, including call recordings, emails, and customer interactions. This data can be used to: 

  • Identify peak call times and staffing needs. 
  • Pinpoint areas for process improvement. 
  • Uncover trends in customer inquiries and complaints. 
  • Develop targeted training programs for back office staff. 
  • Measure the effectiveness of back office processes.

By leveraging data analytics, BPOs can help travel brands optimize their back office operations, leading to increased efficiency and improved customer satisfaction.

Experience the iQor Difference

To navigate today’s travel and hospitality landscape, you need more than just a BPO provider. You need a trusted BPO who understands the unique challenges you face and can deliver solutions that drive real results. 

iQor is a globally trusted managed service provider of digitally enabled business and CX solutions recommended by the world’s leading travel and hospitality brands as a trusted advisor that seamlessly integrates with the needs of their organization. 

We go beyond traditional outsourcing to offer a comprehensive suite of services designed to optimize your entire customer journey.  Here’s how we can help you soar: 

  • Deep Industry Expertise. Our team boasts extensive experience in travel and hospitality, including navigating our customers’ proprietary CRM platforms and leveraging OCR. 
  • Data-Driven Insights. We implement cutting-edge data science and AI to unlock actionable insights from your customer data. This empowers us to optimize channel utilization, identify risk areas, and personalize the customer experience for increased satisfaction. 
  • Global Capabilities & Security. With a presence across 10 countries and a private, high-performance CX cloud, we offer scalability, security, and seamless global support. 
  • Next-Generation Solutions. We are early adopters of innovative technologies like VALDI’s advanced analytics and iQor’s Symphony [AI]TM ecosystem, continuously investing in creating the future of travel industry customer service. 
  • Trusted Partner Approach. We foster a consultative partnership, deploying dedicated account teams with industry expertise to guide you every step of the way. You’ll gain a reliable advisor who understands your business and is invested in your success. 

iQor offers the perfect blend of innovative digital support solutions and expert leadership dedicated to creating exceptional customer experiences. Ready to transform your travel and hospitality brand? Contact us today, and let’s discuss how we can turn more travelers into enthusiastic brand advocates.

Susan Halvorsen, vice president of business development at iQor, is a dedicated CX leader who champions the power of innovation to elevate customer experiences in travel and hospitality. Connect with Susan on LinkedIn.

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