Personal service more important than cost to modern travellers

Today’s travellers tend to care more about personalised service than they do about cost, according to a consensus from the Bright On Travel forum at Brighton last month. The event brought together a number of major players in the digital travel industry to look at how travel companies are serving customers who come to them online.

The Bright On Travel forum was put together by CWT Digital and Travolution; it featured a number of speakers and presentations from experts in different areas of the travel industry. Speakers included the editor of Travolution, Lee Hayhurst, and the managing director of CWT Digital, Dan Caplin, with a panel of others representing Matchbox Mobile, Amadeus UK and Ireland, and Zendesk.

Attendees shared their insights and observations about how the travel industry is evolving and the most effective ways to attract and gain the loyalty of travel customers. Nick Peart, managing director of Zendesk, put the basic idea in a nutshell when he said that good customer service isn’t complicated, it’s just a matter of listening carefully and then responding efficiently, with quality always a priority.

Travel agencies that specialise – niche agencies – have the opportunity to shine in today’s market as they can deliver more personal attention and service for individual clients. When there are so many choices available to potential customers, the travel operator who can offer a tailor-made vacation or business trip will often be the one chosen. Operators who stay in close touch with their customers are the ones that earn trust – and continued business.

Along the same lines, Natural World Safaris, a specialist tour operator, recently conducted a survey that revealed the majority of their customers considered knowledgeable, experienced and dedicated operators with the ability to prevent or quickly solve problems anywhere along the way had much more to do with customer satisfaction than getting a ‘good deal’ at a cheaper rate.

NWS considers itself a very client-oriented organisation and the company was rated 96% on customer service by participants in their survey. One client interviewed said he felt confident that NWS would do everything possible to take care of any problem, another said the company didn’t just send clients off on a ‘beaten track’ but tried to ensure they got to see and do just what they hoped for when booking the tour. Bottom line: outstanding customer service is the key to success in today’s travel industry.