I recently took one of my first trips in nearly 18 months. In addition to the smoky air filling the atmosphere of the northwestern United States, I experienced a delayed flight due to a staffing shortage, a hotel struggling to provide the same level of hospitality expected pre-pandemic, and a frustrated friend group unable to find a rental car within 50 miles.
If you’ve traveled recently, odds are you’re no stranger to the above. And if you work in the airline, hotel, rental car, or cruise business, you don’t need to be told twice about the devastating impact measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 have had.
Ongoing effects of the pandemic
Nearly every industry has been affected by the pandemic, with airlines near the top of the list. Their fleets and frequent fliers have had their wings clipped for over a year now, with airports operating at a fraction of their passenger capacity. Over $84 billion in revenue was missed out on in 2020 alone, and 2021 isn’t exactly shaping up to be a vast improvement.
With some domestic travel restrictions easing now, staycations have become the only way for most people to enjoy some time beyond their own four walls. For the hospitality industry, though, getting guests back isn’t as simple as throwing open the doors, observing all prevailing health regulations, and waiting for the hordes to come running.
Constantly bombarded by bad news for over 15 months now, even the hardiest amongst us have been thrown off their stride. And this feeling is amplified when it comes to cruising. The early stories of cruise ship horrors at the beginning of the pandemic have made travelers wary of returning to the seas. That industry quite simply stopped due to COVID-19, and up to 2,500 jobs are lost each day that cruises are not operating.
How to land your communications strategy
People are anxious and nervous, and brands around the world must address this head-on. But how do you bring customers back, attract new customers, and generally shore up your business? Well, we’ve got a few tried and tested ideas for you:
Welcome your clients back in a genuine, heartfelt manner
People are not machines. Authenticity is vital and how you go about conveying this is just as relevant as the content itself. Messages need to be truly personalized. However, personalization is about far more than just including a customer’s name. If they are a premium member of your loyalty program, thank them for their loyalty. Call it out, and don’t just infer it. Reference their last trip. Demonstrate you care about their business and ongoing loyalty.
Don’t pretend it’s 2019 again
Layout all the facts, including the stringent regulatory frameworks travel businesses find themselves having to operate within. It’s essential to let your customers know what you can and can’t do for them. Make the reality clear and deliver on everything you absolutely can in a genuinely friendly and professional manner. SMS is a perfect way to share these updates with your frequent fliers. You’ll be laying the groundwork for a triumphant return to what will hopefully be a semblance of normality again in the coming months. Fingers and toes crossed on that one…
If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it
Your brand’s success is determined by how well you meet customer expectations and the level of trust your customers have in you. But how do you know what these are unless you ask them? And your first question has to be how they prefer to be contacted; ask your customers exactly which channel(s) they prefer. Your goal is to make them feel comfortable. That might mean push messages from your app, email, chat app interactions (think WhatsApp Business and Viber Business), and of course, SMS. Don’t guess and fail. Let them tell you what they need, and then you can succeed.
Communication is a two-way street
When structuring mobile customer engagement, envision your clients being with you in person at all times. When we’re physically in the same space, communication is expected to be two-way. Let’s make sure we’re emulating that when engaging via chat or text. Until omnichannel communication solutions, like Mitto Conversations, hit the market, there were few options to help enterprises accomplish this. Real engagement is about providing moments, opportunities for a genuine conversation should the need and want arise. Two-way is far more impactful than just a “nice to have you today” message. And allowing your customers to reach you across multiple channels kicks the conversation up a notch.
The travel industry is in uncharted territory right now, but so are their customers.
Facilitating rich, engaging, and secure customer conversations is critical to reigniting hospitality businesses. With so much competition and the digital transformation in hyperdrive, you’ve got to make your message stand out and reach your customers where they are. Need a way to efficiently manage these meaningful two-way conversations across a host of channels within a single pre-built, no-code platform? Well look at that, Mitto’s here to help!