December 9, 2015
Creating Five-Star Travel Experiences
Filed under: Entrepreneurship
With the holidays upon us, people are gearing up to travel. Whether it’s to visit family or take a vacation, the fact is that people will be traveling, often in a stressed state since the holidays can add extra pressure to our already busy lives.
The influx of holiday travelers will tremendously impact the business traveler who most likely still has to travel for business, among the millions of leisure travelers returning home for the holidays. This increase in travel volume can also increase the stress of customer service agents, who are hopefully capable of handling even the most challenging situations.
But if the unpredictable occurs—bad weather, delayed flights, missing reservations—the heightened emotions may cause travelers to react more forcefully than normal, while adding to their perception that the travel company has not handled their situation appropriately.
Now the empowered customer, who is already frustrated, can express his or her dissatisfaction a number of ways, especially through social media including sites geared specifically to providing experience ratings, such as Trip Advisor, Oyster or Virtual Tourist—not to mention Google. It’s the perfect storm. Fortunately, it is one that you can prepare for by building a strategy that includes excellent customer experiences, regardless of the situation.
Our experts in corporate travel have provided tips for your team to ensure that you always have a 5-star experience for your customers, regardless of the situation. This is a lofty goal, but one that will pay off in long-term customers and repeat business. Let’s begin with our corporate travel team who provides VIP services to high-end corporate travelers on behalf of our premier travel partner:
Tips from the Front Line — Premier Business Travel Service
- Big Things Come from Small Groups — when working a concierge-style service queue, having the ability to handle all questions and requests is critical. Our experience has taught us that this service is best handled by dedicated “white glove” teams. The intimate nature of the service requires a different approach best handled by just a few, high-quality seasoned agents.
- Proactive is the Only Way — our team works diligently to catch issues and resolve them before the travelers are even aware. In fact, we developed our own system called SafetyNet to double check each reservation to ensure there are minimal travel disruptions or surprises.
- On Demand is Better — travelers are often impacted by weather and other disaster-type events. By having an On Demand team, you are always able to provide white-glove service because there is someone available who has not been impacted directly and can step into the queue without hesitation.
Even the seemingly simple business traveler request is not so simple, particularly during the holidays. If your travel is impacted by a weather event, or you simply need to extend a business or leisure trip, ensuring you have a rental car available should be a simple task. Our program team working with this well-known car rental agency makes sure it is:
Tips from the Front Line — Car Rental Extension
- Keep it Short — agents know the system inside-out and ensure that travelers get their information quickly. The transaction times must be very short so the traveler can get what he or she needs and get back to their trip.
- Be Kind — regardless of the reason for the extension, it is important to be pleasant. Making a transaction short does not mean skimping on kindness and etiquette.
- Be Empathetic — kindness will stem from empathy. Not all extensions are for leisure travel, so put yourself in the renters’ shoes. Don’t provide unnecessary information. This is not the time for an upsell.
Regardless of the type of travel support performed, the key to providing 5-star customer experiences lies with the agent. Everyone agrees that the agent mindset is critical, and that the remote agent model is a contributor to the success of these programs. The remote agents on these teams have this in common:
Agent Mindset is Key
- Professionalism — agents with a strong business sense and the ability to solve problems are necessary when you want to bring a different level of commitment to your travelers.
- Dedication — agents who are dedicated to their craft. There is an entirely different level of commitment needed when servicing the business traveler. Find agents who will not dismiss issues or leave them for the next agent to resolve.
- Experience — agents required for travel programs have a strong skill set to pull from when providing VIP service. These agents have both know-how and empathy, but all are invested in one thing—positive customer experiences.
Five-star customer experiences encompass the entire travel experience and are created by the hard-working team members providing support. They have a passion for the industry, which can be seen in every transaction they handle. Having the opportunity to positively impact customers’ travel experiences is part of a travel professional’s DNA and will ensure that the customers are happy every single time.