Is Your Customer Support Ready for the 2023 Rush of Summer Family Vacations?
Inflation, global conflict, even health concerns are not stopping families from traveling. According to a recent Travel Pulse Report, Americans said it was the #1 thing they would spend money on and 41% say they plan to spend more on travel in the upcoming year. In fact, many are already booking flights and hotel reservations for their 2023 summer family vacations, and as we get closer to that seasonal peak, travelers will be flooding your customer support channels with everything from simple inquiries, to booking changes, cancellations, upgrade requests and more. Are you ready to ramp up to meet the demand? Here are a few things to consider when scaling for the summer rush.
Why It’s Going to Be a Busy Season for 2023 Summer Family Vacations
Many experts didn’t predict a full return to travel until 2025. However, with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and vaccination requirements across most travel destinations, families are hungrier than ever for those big summer vacations they used to take. Indeed, that pent up demand has led to travel’s highest spending mark since the pandemic began.
According to Travel Pulse’s report, sky-high room rates and air fares are not stopping Americans from planning their next great trip. Even with rising costs, people are willing to splurge for their ideal vacation, with the average American family ready to spend over $200 a day. And almost 50% of people are eager to travel internationally in 2023, with 3 in 10 travelers planning a dream vacation in the next 6 months.
Domestic travel is predicted to remain strong throughout the summer, with 75% of Americans saying they plan to travel within the U.S. The ubiquitous family summer road trip is also making a comeback now that COVID restrictions have eased. If 2023’s numbers are anywhere near this year’s, that means that almost 42 million Americans could be traveling by car over the July 4th weekend and may need support with rental vehicles and last-minute booking changes or inquiries.
Customer Expectations Have Changed for Summer Travel
Many families (71%) found today’s travel planning more complex, especially with frequent disruptions and cancellations caused by continued labor shortages in the travel and hospitality sector. Families are also price conscious and want to save wherever they can. They might still need help finding last-minute flight deals or accommodation, and with more options than ever, such as long-term vacation rentals and home stays, that could explain why 43% still like to have help from a travel advisor. That’s where your reservations team comes in. They can help drive more sales by pointing customers towards deals and packages that have added value for families, such as family-friendly excursions, meal packages, kids' clubs, or room amenities like extra beds, kitchenettes etc.
Travel preferences have also changed. With travel’s higher price tag, 46% expect more unique, personalized experiences, and almost 50% want better customer service. Your customer support channels will need to be available 24/7, especially during the summer peak, when families will need support before and during their trips. This is when you need to ensure that you have enough capable agents to field customer calls, emails, or live chats, so that travelers aren’t kept waiting if they have issues that need to be resolved. The goal is to avoid the horrendous customer wait times that we’ve seen in the past two years, which has given the travel industry a negative reputation.
The quality of customer service will factor heavily into brand loyalty and promotion. Almost half of American travelers will switch hotels or airlines for a better experience, and 2022 surveys show that 29% of travelers will actively promote a hotel brand if teams are friendly and attentive, while 25% want hotels to proactively communicate with them, especially around any expected hotel staff shortages that could affect their stay. Based on their travel experience this summer, and the quality of customer support they receive, families may leave either favorable or unfavorable reviews about your business. And those count for next season’s bookings, as 8 out of 10 travelers will book with travel brands recommended by others.
Are You Ready?
Travel advisors have already seen a surge in summer bookings, with many reporting double-digit growth in premium and luxury lines. If you want to capitalize on the potential windfall of 2023 family summer vacations, then it’s important to give great customer service at three key times: now, as people book; before the season begins, as people prepare to travel; and during the seasonal peak, when travelers will be on the move. Not only is good customer service known to promote brand loyalty and trust, but the more travelers trust a brand, the more likely they are to spend – 89% of Americans may be looking for a travel deal in 2023, but many say they could be persuaded to spend upwards of $10,000 on their next family vacation, and you want them to spend that with your brand.
It will be important to make sure that you can ramp up to the necessary numbers, now, and as we approach the summer rush, so your support teams won’t be inundated with calls as we near the summer peak. The challenge is how to do that in a cost-effective manner, especially when many travel brands are still trying to recoup from the revenue losses of the past three years.
One of the benefits of working with a customer experience (CX) partner is that they can help you control costs. itel, for instance, offers flexible, affordable services in Voice, Email, and Chat, that give you the ability to scale up or down, as needed, to help you manage peak times and seasonal shifts. We can support high call volumes and we can even cross-train our existing retail agents to serve travel accounts during peak seasons, to ensure that you can ramp fast and efficiently. Our bilingual agents have extensive expertise in the travel & leisure industry, as well as skillful upselling techniques. They can be your strongest brand ambassadors, driving demand for your airline or property.
Our Data Science & Innovation Team can also help you find new efficiencies and process improvements that lead to greater cost savings. They can even help you uncover new customer insights through your contact center data, which can lead to quicker, better business decisions.
Plus, think of how you can maximize hotel property layouts when you eliminate unnecessary in-house reservations and customer support infrastructure.
If you’re ready to boost conversions, increase revenues, and reduce costs while creating memorable experiences for your guests, contact us to schedule a consultation.