The travel industry has gone through some testing times over the last decade. Major challenges such as the growth of the Internet, global recession and terrorism, have all caused travel agents, OTAs (on-line travel agencies) and operators to re-access the direction and processes within their businesses.
The good news however, is that travel growth over the coming years is predicted to rise by 5.4% per annum over the next ten years, outpacing global GDP (Source: Oxford Economics). However, in order for travel operators to maximise these new opportunities they will need to adopt new technologies that can offer their customers alternative and more flexible way to communicate and conduct business.
These include new multi-media solutions that are replacing traditional phone systems and enable operators to integrate e-commerce, smart phone apps and high speed broadband into a single ‘unified’ communications platform.
The power of one
Unified Communications (UC) is the consolidation of all communications and IT applications such as the telephone, bookings system, voicemail, email, IM (instant messaging), video or conferencing into one.
Therefore, regardless of whether your travel business is based at a single site, multiple sites or scattered across the globe, staff become part of a single network and can therefore log-in at any desk/device with their own unique user ID. So, whether in a contact centre, at home, overseas or on the road, everyone has access to the same communication that they would enjoy in a conventional office.
For the travel operator, where there are multiple channels over which customers and employees communicate, UC based platforms have the potential to enrich the overall customer experience, deliver significant cost-savings and add flexibility the business needs to move and adapt quickly in a dynamic market place.
Adapting to changing customer needs
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits compared with an old-fashioned phone system is that it can be customised to meet exact individual business requirements. With 48% f consumers considering a holiday stating that social media and other multi-media channels would play some part in their decision making and booking process over the next 12 months (Nielsen 2013), it is vital that operators can configure their communications so that they can react to these demands, in a way that is conducive both to them and to their customers.
Some UC offerings such as SwyxWare even allow you to configure your calls so you can ‘pop-up’ web-based information dependent on who is calling. For example you might want to incorporate ‘Where the customer has visited before’, ‘Booking Information’ or other personalised information such as ‘special requirements’ like assistance required at the airport.
In addition, unlike the traditional phone system, UC fully integrates with any relevant back-office systems, you have including familiar applications such as Amadeus, Sage, and popular CRM applications. The result is that all your communications are in sync with everything else that’s going on in your business.
Other key benefits essential to travel operators include:
· Remote Working: Staff and agents can access the system from anywhere in the world
· Never miss a booking: UC can help you enhance communication between your international teams and your customers once they are at their holiday destination.
· Reduce your HR bill: Location is no longer a barrier to finding suitable staff. These types of staff can just as easily work from home, somewhere in between or even in another country!
· Reduced Telephony costs: Overseas calls using the Internet are free
· Ensures Business continuity: Communications can be easily re-rooted in case of a major failure
· Reduced IT cost: no more expensive telephone maintenance contracts
Who’s using UC in the Travel Industry?
Many travel operators are already using UC, some in very imaginative ways which highlights the flexibility of the technology. For example, luxury on-line travel business Destinology uses its UC system to create, analyse and track 2,000 unique telephone numbers for different marketing campaigns. With integration with their booking system, they can assess the level of conversions and plan future campaigns that will deliver maximum value.
Meanwhile Wendy Wu Tours, a leading specialist tour operator for the Far East is using UC to directly connect all its agents and managers around the world to its head office using an app on their smart phones. This not only significantly reduces their cost, but perhaps more importantly they can react very quickly to any issue world-wide supporting their promise of excellent customer service.
UC is set to revolutionise the way in which travel operators manage and evolve their businesses. This article provides a glimpse of what is possible. For further reading please download our whitepaper at: http://www.elitetele.com/