How AI Can Painlessly Upgrade Customer Service For Travelers

Let’s explore how AI can drive customer satisfaction in travel and tourism  

Guests expect quick, convenient and personal resolutions on their channel of choice. Customer service is a core driver for overall customer satisfaction in travel and tourism, and is directly tied to loyalty and future spend. Without leveraging AI, it’s cost–prohibitive for companies to scale customer service efforts that meet these quick-rising demands.  According to our travel and hospitality customers, AI can resolve over 50% of pre-, day-of and post travel customer service issues in less than one second. 

 A study published in the Harvard Business Journal found that responding to customers in five minutes or less when they have an issue leads to a willingness to spend $20 more in the future for a ticket on an airline. 

Exceptional customer care is how travel and hospitality companies stand out and build brand love when hotel rooms and plane seats look remarkably similar. In fact, while 46% of customers took loyalty programs into consideration,  60% say great customer service is critical. [Read how we’re helping WestJet drive high CSAT here.]

AI can be deployed to manage sky-rocketing volume across an increasing number of channels

Airlines, hotels and OTAs are experiencing a surge in customer service queries across email, chat and messaging. A large percentage of these tickets, however, cover just a few topics and scenarios (i.e. flight status, baggage policies, etc.). Leveraging historic call and email logs, as well as social messaging and chat history, AI can be trained to answer these  high-volume, highly-repeatable queries. Through machine learning, the AI will be able to understand the various ways that a guest might ask the same question to correctly classify a person’s intent. The more data that is available to use in training the AI, the more accurate the AI will perform. 

With AI Agents removing the mundane work from the sphere of responsibility of the more expensive human agents, they are freed up to help only in the most pressing, high-stress customer issues (such as rebooking a missed flight when a person is stuck in traffic).  Agents are more fulfilled, so companies see lower agent attrition and save significant resources spent hiring and training new employees.    

Here are a few categories of highly-repeatable guest issues can be delegated to AI and be deflected from costly call centers: 

  • Booking: Discovery questions related to available flights, last-minute pricing and options can easily be delegated to AI for quick, accurate responses. Through integrations with back-end systems, an AI Agent can reply to questions like “Do you have any rooms available in Chicago tonight” or “Can I get on an earlier flight” immediately. 
  • Upgrades and value-added services: Once a ticket is booked, an AI Agent can also provide information on policies, cost and real-time availability for questions related to upgrades and ancillary purchases. “Can I get upgraded to a suite”, “Is there free wifi on my flight” or “Is business class available on my flight tomorrow” can be easily delegated to an AI Agent, never getting in a human agent’s queue, while also driving revenue through effortless interaction (i.e. one-click upgrade presented during the conversation). 
  • Status: “Is my flight on time”, “Can I check in” and “What gate is my flight departing from” are a few examples of status-related questions that represent a large volume of tickets to customer care teams.  These types of queries can easily be managed by an AI agent with precision and speed.  
  • Policies:  Policy questions like “How many bags can I bring” and “How much does an extra bag cost” are mundane questions that are easily automated with AI. CSAT will soar as basic questions are answered via human-like, natural conversation. 
  • Billing questions: Post-trip or purchase, many people have questions related to the specific charges or taxes they see. AI can provide initial color into various charges, answering questions like “why was my bill so high” or “what are these taxes for”.
  • Disruptions: AI can act as the first line of defense during weather delays, cancellations and other disruptions. AI can gather customer information and pull booking options for a human agent to quickly manage. 
  • Loyalty Programs and Points: An AI Agent can help people access information related to their loyalty status, miles / points earned, opportunities to “cash in” their rewards or help a traveler get credit for a recent stay or flight. Through a simple API integration, loyalty program support can be facilitated almost exclusively via AI across channels. 

AI can power five-star service, and pay off in future spend 

Customer service represents an incredible business opportunity to drive revenue growth and dramatically increase customer satisfaction for travel and tourism companies. It’s no longer strictly a resolution capacity, but a critical differentiator. Traveling is complex – logistically and emotionally.  Issues happen and questions arise. And when they do, travelers have very high expectations for customer service.

Convenient, low-effort support across pre-booking, booking and post-trip is what customers expect right now. But without bringing AI into the workforce, it’s very difficult for companies to meet these expectations. 

AI can delight customers with immediate resolutions while supercharging human agent productivity. Airlines, hotels, OTAs and cruise lines will benefit from an enormous cost savings by optimizing human agent time, as well as reducing agent and customer churn. 

Are you a travel and tourism company that’s ready to increase customer satisfaction? We’d love to chat.