Travel & Hospitality meets Conversational Commerce: Real agency experience 100% online

Travel & Hospitality martech trends are constantly changing as the digital trends and customer expectations keep on evolving and directly affecting the industry. Staying on top of the digital game is crucial for big key players in this industry to remain competitive and keep up with the customer expectations when it comes to their online customer experience.   

“Brands are left with no room for error” https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/311631/travel-industry-revelation-taking-customer-experi.html

The reality is customers no longer wait around, they want something quick, fast, efficient and human. This means that the travel brands have to start providing their customers with a world class online experience, or risk losing their business to a more innovative competitor or to a more efficient aggregator.

The travel & hospitality industry is facing 3 main challenges:

1- Travel fair aggregators are taking too much market share. Travel brands are forced to work on commission schemes and are losing the control of their marketing message.

2- Brick-and-mortar travel agencies are losing traffic dramatically year over year, and the current e-commerce experience based on forms, text chats, telephone numbers, is not filling this gap.

3- Websites are static, conversion rates are low and the balance of traffic vs sales is not improving, due to lack of transparency and face-to-face interactions that build trust.

The problem to hand is clear: Travel & Hospitality brands, need to find a way to attract customer to their websites and keep them engaged if they wish to increase their online sales. Many have already discovered the benefits of live video chat and real-time face-to-face assistance online. It not only reduces the volume of calls to the call centers, but also helps agents to focus on more important tasks such as assisting online customers with their purchases, cross selling and upselling.

Customers want to have a conversation, they want to speak with the brand and want to be listened to

Travel plans require extensive research and careful comparison. To do that, consumers use different types of services and, therefore, call upon several service providers: housing, transportation, leisure activities, etc. The purchase is carefully considered and can take time. And in parallel, consumers spend a lot of this time online; this way, they can get more information, faster. Social networks, blogs, brand and comparison websites are all helping consumers build their project and influence their decisions. Therefore, it is crucial for brands to be present during every step of the customer journey.  

“Travel & Hospitality is a high-tech and high-touch industry. Guest experience (from the guest’s perspective) is expected to be the same. To get there, travel & hospitality brands must observe the existing guest experiences versus what they really prefer. They must compare these experience to those of other industries offering guest journeys, which are reshaping customers’ preferences and behaviors.” Brian Solis

To retain their digital audience and transform them into customers, brands from the travel sector now rely on conversational commerce solutions, which allows live engagement and real-time interactions.

On average, buyers consult eight websites before booking a trip.

Why conversational commerce and not AI and bots?

Ben Lamm, the CEO and co-founder of Conversable, probably said it best: “Bots are easy. Conversations are hard.”

They can help travel brands provide assistance to the online customer, upon initial contact with online visitors or for filtering and segmenting the online audience. But as a stand-alone tool, chatbots do not perform well:

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Image 1: source – https://gpshopper.com/

Travel brands are looking to sell a high-ticket products online. The customers would probably prefer a face-to-face conversation with a real human instead of a bot, when making a decision about an expensive holiday package. A human interaction not only builds trust with the brand but it also increases the transparency and gives the brand the option to personalise their customer’s browsing experience in real time.

Here is why conversational commerce solution is imperative for the travel industry:

  • Turns your website into a digital sales channels that generates highly qualified leads and increase online sales.

When consumers see the beautiful promises made by brands, they often have a need for reassurance. They won’t finalise their purchase if they cannot project themselves into a smooth experience. They need information on terms of payment and insurance procedures. This is a significant barrier to online sales for travel brands. But consumers are online, and they buy online.

  • Creates a customer-centric digital and omnichannel experience  for your customers.

Customer service is a critical success factor for the brands in the travel sector. While the boundaries between physical and digital trade are increasingly blurred, the industry understands they need the best possible customer engagement tools in place. Conversational commerce solution is in that sense perfect as it aims to bring back a human touch at the heart of customer interactions online.

  • Enables a quick and easy connection between the online visitors and company agents in real time.

Agents are able to show videos to the customers, co-browse offers and fill order forms jointly with the customer and build trust and transparency via voice, chat or video for a face-to-face interaction.

Web visitors now enjoy this enhanced customer experience which generates a sense of reassurance, trust and a truly personal interaction through live video engagement.

Live video chat is successful with online customers because it’s free and immediate. It enables brands to reduce the visitor’s waiting time and promote a ‘‘customer centric’’ dimension while traditional phone calls place visitors in a position of demand.

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Image 2: Whisbi One-to-One chat 

At Whisbi we know that the best way to engage with consumers online at any stage of their customer journey is to initiate a conversation with them after having understood their expectations. Still, in order for the exchange to be efficient, brands have to engage them at the right time to get their attention. Whisbi’s conversational commerce solution does just that –
For example, Bahia Principe was able to connect every online visitor with one of their agents in less than 6 seconds, anywhere in the world!
The brand was  able to capture their web visitors’ attention quickly and turn them into customers much faster. The “engagement” factor increased their online sales conversion rate by 35%!

Whisbi offers us a new client relationship model, bringing the product experience closer to the customer and helping us increase our online business, as well as allowing us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors.”  Juan Campins-Ecommerce & Direct Sales Corporate Director, Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts

The fact that web visitors were able to speak to a real person in this crucial research or decision making stage via live video chat, the agents were able to better explain their offers and reassure the customers on their decisions. This had a positive impact on their average ticket value, which is now astonishing $1597!

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