“On Monday, (July 18, 2022) airports around the world tallied more than 25,000 flight delays and 3,100 cancelations, according to FlightAware tracking data. In the United States, 19 airports saw at least 20% of their flights delayed.” - Forbes
While flight delays are nothing new, the sudden surge in travel demands following Covid-19 are coinciding with a number of factors that have – and will continue to – lead to interrupted services in airline travel. A shortage of airline pilots following a spike in retirements, strike action, airlines going out of business, climate crisis, and more have resulted in a very unpredictable industry.
However, this isn’t going to stop tourists! According to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) analysis of global air traffic, there was a 65% increase in air passengers between January and April 2022 compared with the same period last year. ICAO is also anticipating continued air travel demand going into the second half of the year.
But for those in the travel industry to balance the reality of flight delays and cancelations with consumer happiness, they need to consider adopting an innovative travel solution that shares flight notifications and airline updates with passengers using a two-way messaging system.
We’re all familiar with chat in our day-to-day lives, whether it’s through SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or some other form of messaging platform. But, more and more, businesses are starting to realize that chat is the key to direct customer engagement, anywhere, anytime – and at scale. You can engage with customers either through:
1-way messaging: This is where you send out important alerts, notifications, and reminders to your customers about the latest launches, emergency information, and deals or discounts.
2-way messaging: This is where you’re opening up the channels of communication and actually giving your customers the chance to respond to you with questions and feedback.
Taking these chat platforms, airlines can create a comprehensive chat travel solution that engages with customers, keeps them updated, and ensures customer satisfaction is elevated for better retention. Here are a few of the use cases for airlines to consider.
1. Updates on flights
A customer can find out about the various flights available by interacting on the chat platform. This includes answering the various frequently asked questions (FAQs), sharing the rules and regulations with passengers, and assisting with the actual flight booking and payments – all through chat. Once the customer has made the flight booking, the two-way messaging service will allow them to keep updated on any and all flight notifications, whether this is because of a change in weather or other airline-related interruptions. This can all be facilitated via a chatbot, but where a passenger needs to engage further, the chat travel solution can redirect the customer to a live chat agent.
2. Cancelation alerts
Most importantly, travel chat will alert passengers to any flight cancelations as early as possible. Rather than passengers having to get all the way to the airport and learn from the attendants or the board, they can be immediately notified about the cancelation and make the necessary arrangements ahead of time. While no customer is happy to learn about a cancelation, they will appreciate the early notification, as well as the ongoing communication regarding the next available flights.
3. Airline upgrades
Customers who want to change their flights or upgrade their seats can also do this easily on the travel chat platform. Likewise, airlines who want to ingratiate themselves with dissatisfied customers can offer them upgrades as a way to improve relations. Many airlines also have relationships with hotels and other hospitality industry members, which can also be leveraged when trying to ease the disappointment of a flight cancelation. Chat is also a fantastic platform for cross-selling and up-selling, such as discounted deals for booking early and incentives to upgrade.
4. Baggage tracking and claims
When a flight is canceled or there are changes to flight plans, one of the biggest headaches is ensuring that the luggage booked ahead of time reaches the same destination as the passenger – at the same time. If this is not possible, at least passengers can keep updated on the status of their lost luggage through the two-way messaging service. Other baggage-related assistance, such as reimbursements for claims and paperwork, can be conducted via the chat platform.
5. Staff communication
Another often overlooked use for airline chat is communicating internally with staff. It’s not only passengers who need to be alerted to airline changes – the airline cabin crew and ground staff will also need to be notified so as to make the necessary arrangements. These chat travel solutions allow airlines to engage directly with staff on a separate chat group, while also keeping customers updated using real-time data. This results in better service delivery at a much lower cost.
It’s clear that chat provides airlines with a comprehensive travel solution that takes into account the unintended delays to travel while also keeping customers and staff happy. Some of the direct benefits of integrating travel chat solutions include:
Cost savings: Chatbots will take care of FAQs and other time-consuming customer queries, freeing up agents to deal with more important matters. Because chat allows for a more efficient operation, airlines are benefitting from cost savings throughout.
24/7 response: Airlines operate throughout the day, throughout the world, which means questions need to be answered and information delivered all the time. Chat can support this need for constant interaction.
Multiple languages: Travel brings together people from across the world, which means many different nationalities with queries in many different languages. Chat can provide answers to questions in any language.
Convert more customers: As customers navigate your site, your chatbot is able to provide them with answers they might be seeking and offer the reassurance they need to secure the sale.
Clickatell offers airlines a comprehensive chat travel solution that provides personalized customer engagement and ensures that flight cancelations and airline updates aren’t the headache they used to be. Get in touch with Clickatell today to find out more about this business-driving solution.
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