Australia’s travel industry is seeing signs of hope after a dismal year marked by bush fires and pandemic lockdowns. Although most international borders are likely to remain closed through 2021, domestic travel and tourism within Australia are expected to rebound in the coming months as state border restrictions are lifted and greater movement is permitted between the states and territories.
The time is now for travel and hospitality businesses to ensure they’re prepared to welcome customers and stand out from competitors. We’ll outline three proven ways to cost-effectively ramp up for business with a flexible workforce and digital tools to deliver the fast and convenient customer support that travelers expect.
1. Think nimble and flexible support
New Zealand and Australia have launched a “travel bubble” that allows citizens to travel between the two countries, however many other countries are still struggling to contain the coronavirus. As a result, while Australia’s travel and tourism industry is recovering, it’s not yet a full recovery, analysts note.
Small and medium-sized enterprise revenue in Australia’s scenic and sightseeing transport industry is expected to increase by 16.4% in 2020-2021 to $793.3 million—a significant decline compared to the $935.9 million revenue peak in 2018-2019, according to IBISWorld.
Operating with a flexible staff that can be ramped up or down as needed is critical for controlling costs as the travel industry returns in fits and starts. For example, during periods of high call volume, at-home customer care associates that are rapidly recruited, trained, and equipped to work from home can provide fast support without the incurred costs of maintaining a brick-and-mortar contact centre.
2. Automate to speed up responses and reduce costs
Many customer interactions can be automated using artificial intelligence and automation to save time, increase savings, and improve results. AI, for instance, can accelerate the training of new associates. With AI-powered training, our RealPlay AI proprietary learning program uses AI bots for digital, simulated learning in a gamified environment.
The AI takes the role of a customer in need, simulating the types of scenarios a hotel or travel agency will face. The system records the associate’s responses to the AI, analyzes how effective the associate is in solving the problem, and provides real-time feedback and coaching. RealPlay AI reduces training time by up to 25% and improves speed to proficiency by as much as 20%, while at the same time giving associates control of when and how they go through the training.
Other automated solutions that increase efficiency and reduce costs include click-to-dial and routing calls to the right associate or department and deflecting inbound calls to messaging (an interactive voice response system recommends callers send a text message to associates).Associates using messaging can handle 4 times as many interactions as a one-on-one phone call.
3. Diversify contact channels for increased productivity and customer satisfaction
As was the case at the height of the pandemic, effortless digitally-enabled services are essential to attracting and retaining busy consumers. Digital booking and other self-service tools will be critical to making the most of the tourism surge.
In addition, today’s customers seek support through multiple channels besides voice: in-app chat, SMS, web-based chat, and social media, to name a few. Travel and hospitality businesses that are equipped to connect with customers the way they want to connect increase employee productivity and customer satisfaction. Here’s how: digital channels like messaging enable customer support associates to manage multiple conversations concurrently. This leads to faster responses and more satisfied customers.
Reset, refresh, refine
The Australian tourism industry won’t fully recover until global air travel rebounds, which may not be until 2022 or later. In the meantime, many Australians are ready to try to fill the gap left by overseas tourists and business travelers. This presents a perfect opportunity for businesses to reset, refresh, and refine their services, ensuring they’re prepared when the travel surge turns into a full-fledged explosion.