From this article, you will learn what are the latest customer experience trends in travel and hospitality in 2022 and how you as a business owner can use them to strengthen your competitive advantages.
I often tell my clients that strategy is never truly finalized. It’s a living organism that has to be nurtured and reviewed on monthly basis. Market and audience change all the time. Your strategy has to keep up with them.
Technology that plays such a vital role in our lives has made these transformations even more dynamic. Pandemics created chaos and the urge to act (often in a panic). And the sociopolitical situation just added fuel to the fire.
Not only did it all change customers’ decision-making process. It made these changes faster and less predictable. Not only do big, powerful players have to keep up with the pace but also small businesses if they want to survive.
That’s why knowing the latest customer experience trends and being able to adapt them is so crucial.
Safety and hygiene
As a result of the pandemic, safety became one of the most important factors for visitors when booking their trips. Whether you work in a hotel, a restaurant, or as a tour operator, people want to know that you implement safety and hygiene measures in your business.
As a brand owner of a travel or hospitality business, be transparent about how you’re handling the situation. Include Covid’s safety measurement policies on your website. In addition, you can use newsletters, text messages, and even booking confirmations to remind your guests of your efforts to make their stay safe and enjoyable.
More safety measures in customer experience trends
Besides the hygiene protocols, don’t forget about other aspects of safety:
- cyber safety: use of personal data, safe bookings, SSL certificates on your website,
- legal safety: policies, contracts, insurance,
- secure cancelation policies,
- health care: first aid training for your employees, accessible first aid kit, etc.
All of these above will build trust and show that you truly care about your guests.
Technology and AI
I know that for many small and medium travel/hospitality business owners, having to invest in tech solutions can seem like a costly and pretty complicated task. However, the latest customer experience trends show clearly that today’s travelers expect brands to be more technologically advanced.
Hilton Hotels use Connie – a small robot that helps guests at the front desk to get to their room, find the restaurant and answer some pending questions. It can even express some basic emotions. Connie is a sign that artificial intelligence has already cemented its place in the customer experience trends.
Yet, we still prefer human interaction, and that’s good news for small business owners. Nonetheless, there are some technologies people are already familiar with that you can easily implement in your business, including:
- chatbots on the website,
- algorithms that create personalized offers,
- contactless check-ins and check-outs,
- virtual reality,
- smart houses/rooms,
- internet of things,
- mobile applications,
personalization and Customization
Internet, algorithms, and social media. With all these technologies, people expect more personal service from travel/hospitality brands. These tools can also work in your favor.
63% of customers declare that they will stop buying from brands that use poor customization (source: Smart Insights)
Brands use online surveys, applications, and booking systems to gather crucial information about their guests. They utilize them later to personalize their communication and create tailored offers accordingly.
There are companies that create ecosystems that allow service providers to connect with one another. In this way, when you check in to your hotel, based on the information they gather about your preferences, they can recommend the right restaurants or attractions for you and your family. That will make your stay unique and unforgettable.
However, what if you run a small brand and investing in an expensive marketing solution is out of the question?
You can use a website and free analytics tools to accomplish the same thing. Or simply ask the right questions to your guests before and after their visit.
When you know your guests very well, you can make their vacation more memorable by remembering their birthdays and favorite foods. Small gestures can make a big difference.
The feeling of personal connection
During the beginning of the pandemic, I rented an apartment for a couple of months where I shared a yard with the owners. Every morning when I opened the door to my tiny house, I was also greeted by their lovely dogs. Every few days, the landlords would give me a box of eggs and some fruit from their private garden. Since I was on my own they were always making sure I had everything I needed. That felt really special.
Do you yourself remember a time when you were traveling and someone made you happy by simply paying attention to your needs, listening to your story, or helping you without wanting anything in return?
We all want this kind of personal connection. The cookie-cutter sort of experience is not enough anymore. People want to feel special and connected.
Again, simple gestures matter. How you approach your guest and how you make them feel makes a difference and can turn a new client into an ambassador of your brand.
In my work, I help travel business owners to understand their audience’s expectations and needs and create a strategy to make their stay unforgettable. I believe that small travel/hospitality brands have a great potential to change the world and lives of their customers and compete in the busy and ever-changing market.
Due to the ever-changing travel restrictions, flexible cancellation policies are more important than ever. Travelers can’t be certain if their trip will succeed until the last minute before they set out. That’s why they think twice before booking a stay or a tour.
According to an Airbnb study, hosts that switched from strict or moderate cancelation policy to flexible noticed a 10% increase in bookings within a month.
When you accept bookings from your website, you have full control over your cancellation policies. However, if you use OTAs, your options are limited. You will have several options to choose from, varying in percentage and days before arrival, depending on what service you use.
However, including some sort of flexible booking can be a major factor in boosting your bookings.
communication in customer experience trends
We live in a connected world where good communication is one of the things customers seek. In particular, Generation Z, which starts to be the most influential traveler group, expects seamless communication with brands.
In today’s world, people want to feel connected and heard, and technology makes it easier for brands to meet this need.
Social media emails, online chats, emails, and feedback applications are only a few tools that small business owners can use on a daily basis without spending thousands of euros.
Investing in quality instead of quantity is also a great idea if you want to level up your communication. Make sure you inform your guests how long they usually have to wait for answers. Audit your touchpoints: check if the emails are working correctly and if there are any important messages in the SPAM folders.