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“Based on the latest available data, global international tourist arrivals more than doubled (+130%) in January 2022 compared to 2021 - the 18 million more visitors recorded worldwide in the first month of this year equals the total increase for the whole of 2021.” – United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
While the Covid-19 pandemic is not completely over, and we still have to contend with the Russia-Ukraine conflict and economic depression, there’s no doubt that people are making the most of 2022 to get travelling again. This is clear from the UNWTO statistics which show a 199% increase in travel to Europe and 97% increase in travel to the Americas which is a significant uptake from previous years.
This jump in numbers is great news for the tourism industry which was hard hit by the pandemic lockdown measures, but it does mean that travel agencies and those in the hospitality industry need to be ready to field several queries from potential customers, without letting people down. Fortunately, the innovative WhatsApp booking system is the ultimate travel solution that lets stakeholders engage with customers – at scale – using their preferred chat platform.
“Text messages do have several advantages—which is probably why 68% of millennials admit to texting “a lot” on a daily basis, compared to 47% of their Gen X counterparts. They’re instant and mobile, which means they can be read and exchanged at almost any time. They can also be thought-out, rather than used as reactions, like in phone calls or in-person conversations.” - Forbes
Also known as travel chatbots or virtual travel agents, chat platforms are able to provide customers with comprehensive travel solutions that makes booking and navigating travel that much easier. And considering millennials are now the dominant consumer market, it’s important that businesses are communicating with them on a medium they’re comfortable with to encourage further engagement. SMS and WhatsApp platforms are just this, and by incorporating them into travel platforms, businesses are making travel arrangements easier for both the customer, as well as those in the travel industry.
1. Assist with travel searches
The customers are able to connect with travel agencies and hospitality industries via their website or social media pages where a chatbot will appear. This helpful tool is then able to engage directly with the customer in a user-friendly manner, incorporating a conversation style that’s easy to navigate. The travel chatbot is able to help the would-be traveller narrow down their options by asking questions related to the dates the individual is considering, the number of people travelling, the budget and preferred type of travel options. Once this information is available – and stored – the chatbot will recommend some great travel advice.
2. Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re in the travel and tourism industry, you’d better be ready to field a high volume of customer queries daily – if you’re not doing so already! But where one person can only do so much, on chatbot can do so much more. Customers are able to engage with tourism operators via the chat platform, asking the usual questions and receiving a wealth of information to help them make an informed decision. All this can be done without the live agent actually having to engage. However, where further assistance is needed, the chatbot can direct the customer to a live agent.
3. Make travel bookings
Once the necessary travel information has been made available, the customer doesn’t have to leave the chat platform to make travel bookings for accommodation, restaurants or live shows – these can all be done on this all-in-one travel solution. Booking information such as ID or passport numbers, number of people in the party and payment information can all be uploaded onto the chat platform and the reservations made.
4. Special booking considerations
Beyond the reservations, customers are able to make specialised bookings and enjoy alternative booking services on the chat platform. Through this travel solution, customers can:
Check-in for flights
Access digital boarding passes
Check flight status and gate changes
Arrange for baggage pickup
Book into an airline lounge
Make seat upgrades or changes
Arrange for wheelchair assistance
5. Attend to lost luggage queries
One of the biggest concerns when travelling is losing luggage during a flight – but with chat, this isn’t such a problem. Customers simply connect via chat to alert the company that their luggage is missing, with the flight details uploaded. They can then track the status of their missing luggage, find out the delivery place and time, so as to be assured their valuables will be returned to them as soon as possible.
6. Deal with cancellations and changes
Weather, global conflicts, protest action, illness … all these unforeseen events can impact travel arrangements, but this is made much more acceptable via the chat platform. The customer’s booking details and reservation codes can be shared here and alternative options provided so that they’re not left stranded. Information related to refund and returns policies can also be made available, and the customer can even create a claim for refunds on chat.
7. Gather feedback and reviews
For travel companies to remain competitive in an increasingly saturated market, they need to know what they’re doing right – and what they aren’t. That’s where chat is so helpful. Customers are able to provide feedback via WhatsApp surveys which are quick and easy to fill out. This way, travel agencies know what they need to do going forwards.
8. Opportunities to cross-sell
This fantastic travel solution also provides businesses with the opportunity to cross-sell or up-sell with options like flight and hotel packages, car rental options, great discounts on tours and sightseeing activities. There are also coupons for nearby eateries or loyalty programmes to consider through chat.
Here’s a quick look at why chat platforms are becoming the dominant travel solution for modern businesses.
Customer support by integrating with existing CRM systems and switching from self-service to live agents when needed.
Promotional campaigns that engage users and encourage user retention.
In-chat payments make paying for goods and services quicker and simpler.
Instant response for the millennial customer who demands 24/7 service.
This comprehensive travel solution is available to all those in the tourism and hospitality industries, it’s just a matter of connecting with the right partner. Clickatell, with decades of experience, is able to connect businesses with the modern consumer faster and at the right price using a WhatsApp Booking System.
SMS and two-way channels, automation, call center integration, payments - do it all with Clickatell's Chat Commerce platform.