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Prioritizing the Customer Experience for Travel and Hospitality Brands

It’s time for hotels, airlines, restaurants, and all businesses that are part of the travel and hospitality landscape to dust off their customer profiles.
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Ron McClain
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AT A GLANCE

  • The travel and hospitality industry is constantly evolving, driven by factors like remote work, high demand, and digital expectations from consumers.
  • To succeed in this evolving landscape, companies should prioritize the customer experience by deeply understanding the customer, leveraging technology to empower employees, and prioritizing innovation across operations.
  • Understand your customers, modernize your technology, and invest in your employees to stay competitive in the industry.

For companies in the travel and hospitality sector, the only constant since 2020 has been a steady stream of change. And change can be challenging. Change also presents opportunities for businesses willing to identify and accept the shifts that have happened, overcome new obstacles with the help of modern tools and revamped processes, and reinvent their brand engagement with customers.

One of the biggest factors affecting the travel and hospitality market has been the swell of remote work opportunities. Remote work has created flexibility for travelers leading to a so-called “bleisure” approach which combines business and leisure traveling. For instance, it’s not uncommon for workers to combine remote work and a pleasurable trip into one long weekend. These travelers have unique expectations when it comes to the customer experience in the hospitality industry. They want the best of all worlds — as well as all the amenities they need for both job and recreation — whether that’s from an airline, hotel, or restaurant.

Another factor that’s creating challenges in the travel industry is the normalization of rate of growth in travel. Demand is sky-high, but supply isn’t keeping up. Across the board, travel and hospitality entities are struggling with talent shortages. Short-staffing makes it impossible for an airline or hotel to focus on scaling up while still maintaining a positive customer experience.

A final contributor to the change happening in travel and hospitality is the rise of all things digital. Consumers live through their devices and expect companies in all sectors to keep up. Trying to meet consumers “where they are” requires implementation of technologically forward products and services, such as digital hotel keys and reliable, fast internet so the work continues uninterrupted.

Getting ahead of travel and hospitality roadblocks

Taken together, the aforementioned changes present some roadblocks for travel and hospitality companies. Fortunately, these roadblocks aren’t insurmountable. Leaders who are willing to rethink how they serve their customers (such as focusing on the burgeoning “remote work traveler” persona) to create differentiated products and solutions that bypass staffing challenges will succeed in not just staying viable but staying at the forefront of the competitive curve.

Below are some starting points for travel and hospitality companies to begin leaning into the bigger industry trends rather than working against the momentum.

Revisit customer personas

It’s time for hotels, airlines, restaurants, and all businesses that are part of the broader travel and hospitality landscape to dust off their customer profiles. Modernization isn’t possible with outdated customer personas. On the other hand, companies that deeply understand emerging customer bases, such as the remote work traveler, will be able to engage those bases effectively.

Being able to know all facets of a customer will be a huge asset moving forward. Most people want personalization. Updating target personas will help you drive closer toward the development of online and offline products, services, and experiences that feel both intuitive and individualized. Customers today are looking for experiences that make the most of their bleisure trips, so services and experiences should fit within those trips with flexible options and amenities that each customer group is seeking.

Leverage the power of technology to overcome staffing issues

Demand fluctuations can create periods of understaffing for every travel and hospitality company. Identifying inefficiencies in existing processes, investing in employees, and technology can empower employees so they can best serve customers. Technology can also help with automation for manual or repetitive tasks, freeing time for employees to focus on high-value activities.

This requires the willingness of organizations to upgrade IT systems, ideally taking advantage of public cloud scale and services. Moving beyond legacy systems gives travel and hospitality businesses an ability to grow and adapt, not to mention make on-demand decisions aimed at providing the best possible customer experience and satisfaction.

Prioritize innovation across operations

The key to true operational scalability is standardization. Having standardized processes for each detail ensures a consistent customer experience and allows a company to be nimble in adapting to change.  Standardization must be accompanied by empowerment of employees to innovate and improve existing processes.  Combining standardization with empowerment creates a culture of continuous improvement and innovation that will ultimately show in key metrics.

Now more than ever, travel and hospitality companies need to innovate. And they need to do it in a systematic, consistent way. Those that do will position themselves to enjoy higher ROI and meet the growing, morphing customer demands without losing sight of (or control over) their operational systems.

Bringing expertise and knowledge to improve customer service in the hospitality industry

For 20 years, Pariveda has helped companies across a variety of fields navigate small and significant changes. If you’re a travel and hospitality brand leader, we’re poised to be a partner as you move forward to better understand your customer base, update your customer experience, modernize your technology, and discover talent shortage solutions.

For instance, Pariveda can help you better understand the customers and customer data you have and determine what you need to innovate. Our goal is for you to have useful data to create a single view of each customer that can be used across all departments. Nothing compares to being able to put data in front of your “front line” staff members to delight, surprise, and retain customers.

Pariveda can also help you take advantage of new technologies. Many travel and hospitality companies are now looking at how they can better extract value from Internet of Things (IoT) sensor data, video data, and marketing data. With the right data, you can make better predictions and decisions by evaluating diagnostics or running simulations based on specific scenarios.

Of course, we also work tirelessly on organizational design for all businesses engaged in change management. Rethinking roles and accountabilities, workflows, and chains of command can be invaluable to working more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Now isn’t the time to move backward. It’s a prime chance to move forward and meet the needs of your industry. If you’re looking for a partner to get you where you want to go, contact us to begin the conversation.

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By Ron McClain
Vice President
Ron has a wide breadth of knowledge in project management, technology solutions development, and strategic process improvements. His primary areas of expertise lie in information systems implementation and planning.

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