Automation versus Personalisation
|How can travel companies automate their processes while retaining personal relationships with consumers?|
In our modern, fast-paced and digitalised world, more people than ever are utilising technology in their day-to-day lives. Automation is crucial in today’s competitive marketplace, and the travel industry is no exception. Gone are the days where customers walked into a travel agency to book their next holiday; today, online booking platforms are leading the way, with companies such as Booking.com and Expedia capturing around 40% of the total global travel market and 70% of travellers researching travel on their smartphones. Digital software is an incredible tool that can benefit both companies and consumers, saving businesses time, money and resources and allowing travellers to compare, plan and book their trips at the mere touch of a screen.
A recent article by Skift explains that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to limit human interactions and cope with reduced staffing, the need for automation has sped up even more. Although this trend isn’t anything new, consumers are now more accepting than ever of limited interactions because of widespread lockdowns, with services like click and collect shopping and online food delivery services having grown exponentially during the past year. From our position in the industry, here at Nezasa we believe that technology is imperative to the future of tourism. As travel begins to resume, it looks like automation is going to be key to the safe restart of the industry.
However, with the huge increase in automation, how can companies ensure that relationships with the consumer are not lost? And, in an industry where customer experience is crucial, how can technology be used as a tool for personalisation?
Automation in the Travel Industry
Automation has hugely impacted the way that modern businesses manufacture, communicate with customers and market their products. And, in the tourism sector, travellers are increasingly looking for and expecting more streamlined services. According to SiteMinder, the travel industry could be at the forefront of cutting-edge technology and Artificial Intelligence, with a number of companies already having implemented innovative technology such as messenger apps, chatbots and even robots.
There are countless benefits of implementing automated services, ranging from faster sales and more satisfied customers to more productive employees and increased efficiency. In the travel industry, fast and immediate sales are key to businesses’ survival, and automated systems such as reservation management, the creation of tour packages and the booking of travel products can speed up the sales process and offer a smoother booking experience.
However, PhocusWire states that although automation can be an incredible tool, it is important to first consider how the business is operated and what its processes and objectives are before choosing which of them should be automated. An article by Skift also explains that, especially in the hospitality industry, there needs to be a fine balance between automation and face-to-face interactions. Hotel chains such as Hilton, Marriott, and the Henn na Hotel in Japan tested the use of robots at their front desk, and although useful for certain tasks, overall customers were more satisfied with human service.
The Importance of Personalisation
Due to the competitiveness of the travel industry, providing a personalised experience is one of the best ways to attract and retain customers. And, according to Netcore, the sector has long been at the forefront of digital transformation, with travel companies in an excellent position which allows them to adapt quickly to the changing wants and needs of the consumer. These days, travellers are looking for more than simply accommodation providers or tour packages – instead, they’re searching for experience providers.
Research by Epsilon found that 87% of consumers are more likely to book travel with websites that offer personalised experiences. Our TripBuilder software allows travel companies to offer highly personalised itineraries to travellers, taking into account their specific needs and wants during the planning, booking and pre-travel stages, all on an innovative, efficient and easy to use platform. Travel booking websites suffer from low conversion rates, and offering a more personalised service is one of the most effective methods of encouraging bookings.
The high demand for personalisation gives travel companies a number of opportunities and challenges. TravelWeekly states that although the use of technology can solve numerous problems, it can also create impersonal experiences. In the travel industry, personal touches are highly important, and it is crucial to find a balance between innovation, automation and personalisation. An article by SmartInsights explains that to achieve this balance, it is important to always put the customer experience first. Although consumers expect efficiency and speed, they are also looking for high-quality service, and sometimes this can be achieved only through human interaction.
However, automation can be used as a tool to enhance and facilitate the customer experience. The use of Artificial Intelligence throughout the entire customer journey can collect and analyse data on their preferences, which, in turn, allows companies to provide more tailored offerings and service. For example, in the hotel industry, daily tasks such as room assignments can be automated using this data, reducing human error, maximising staff’s time with the guests themselves and blending technology and human service to deliver a more memorable and personalised experience.
It is clear that automation is key to the future of the travel industry, and digital platforms offer countless opportunities for companies to personalise the customer experience. Here at Nezasa, we are passionate about technology and how it can be used to innovate the sector, and that’s why we continue to constantly develop our product to offer the best possible experience for our customers and the end consumer.
For more information read our blog on Travel Agencies Platform.