A global technology provider is urging travel providers to invest in next-generation technology to avoid disruption in the “hectic” festive season.
Gatwick airport has forecast a record festive period, with Friday December 22 expected to be the busiest day for flights. The airport is expecting over two million passengers to have travelled through its gates between December 15 and January 3.
Bhupender Singh, CEO of Intelenet Global Services, says crowded airports, long queues and flight disruptions push travel providers to meet high customer expectations.
“In the ‘always on’ and ‘always connected’ environment, holidaymakers expect to be updated in real time if their flight is going to be delayed or cancelled,” he said.
He predicts that customer expectations are expected to further rise in 2018 as real-time technologies are installed – meaning travel providers will experience an increase in pressure to compete and manage their queues more effectively.
But he believes airlines and online travel agencies (OTAs) are turning to digital solutions to fast track communication with passengers and speed up the complaint resolution process and advises that artificial intelligence and other automation technologies can “contribute significant efficiencies”.
Singh said: “In these hectic periods, there is a significant amount of pressure on every aspect of running an airline business, including the bits that are sometimes forgotten. For instance, delays caused by busy check-in and long queues for security can have a negative impact on customer service.
“In particular, passengers are demanding rapid communication and resolution when it comes to flight cancellations and delays. In order to remain one step ahead, travel providers are putting in place best practice communication systems which fast track the claims calculations process, keeping customers abreast of updates.
“The biggest threat that airlines face is the ability to successfully navigate the holiday season, rather than the holiday season itself. Customer concerns are aired very quickly via social media, which can permanently damage brand loyalty and retention.
“In light of this, companies are increasingly turning towards automated solutions such as iCAN, which has cut dispute processing times by 60 percent, enabling travel providers to manage a higher volume of complaints more efficiently.
“In order for OTAs and airlines to differentiate themselves, they must cater to customers in their hour of need. Harnessing innovative technologies will allow front line staff to navigate busy periods throughout the year, boosting positive customer sentiment and streamlining costs.”