By Srivatsan Srinivasan, product marketing manager at Nexmo
Travel brands are adopting cloud communications to help maintain customer engagement. In today’s mobile-first world, the process of booking a trip has radically changed and as a result, has transformed the travel industry.
Customers no longer need to book through a travel agent or call an airline to book a holiday as they now look to their mobile or desktop. With most consumers visiting up to 38 sites before booking travel it is important that brands are available on both their mobile device and laptop to ensure they are connecting with their customers at every point of the customer journey.
Although desktop remains the most popular for travel research, 41 percent of travellers research travel using mobile devices, according to Webtrends.
As mobile becomes the platform consumers resort to make their last-minute travel bookings, it is not surprising that travel companies have made significant investments to keep up with the mobile boom. The year 2014 saw a record high number of online travel bookings, with 65 percent of same day hotel reservations made via the smartphone.
So what do these investments entail? How will this investment benefit both consumers and businesses? The answer is cloud communications.
The travel booking process is now more complex than ever, various points of contact with agencies and travel accounts are needed to complete the requirements of the customer. It is essential to maintain the lines of communication active between all parties.
With this in mind, travel companies are taking advantage of cloud communications in order to obtain new customers, maintain engagement with those customers and provide the best possible customer experience. These factors, along with global communication services, will enable travel companies to maintain a reliable touch point with their partners and more importantly with their customers.
Here are some ways that travel companies can take advantage of this technology to help serve travellers:
Cloud communications is effective for time-sensitive messages
The best way to deliver a mission-critical message, such as a booking reminder, flight change alert or hotel confirmation, is to use SMS and voice to the customer. Nowadays, customers are more likely to check their phone more frequently than their personal emails.
With this in mind, these notifications will get to the user quicker if they come via text or a short voice message, rather than an email which will go to their inbox and possibly not be read straight away. The benefit of this communication service is that it draws the user’s immediate attention to the travel company’s notification so it maximises the chances of the notification being seen soon after it is delivered.
Expansive reach for travellers on a budget
Most travellers will turn off their mobile data when travelling to avoid the roaming charges at their destination. While this will most likely delay the delivery of an email, a text message will reach the customer almost straight away.
By using cloud communications, not only can travel brands maintain the connection between the customer and the travel facilitators but also maintains that connectivity no matter where the customer is and at a cheaper delivery cost for the customer and the brands. This cost efficiency allows travel brands to scale their global communications much faster.
Heightened security between hosts and travellers
Another advantage which cloud communications offers travel brands is that it can also be used to protect user identities for both the provider and the user. For example Airbnb utilises SMS proxy, as well as voice proxy, to offer private connections between hosts and travellers which also facilitates confirmation of the traveller’s identity.
SMS and voice proxies protects the user’s identity by masking their phone number, while still providing the direct communication channel. This efficient and secure communication helps build a trusting relationship between the brand and the consumer.
Both Expedia and Booking.com are advocates of cloud communications and how this can help businesses follow the customer along their booking journey.
Enabling and securing the user experience through cloud communications not only benefits the consumer but also connects the buyer and seller relationship which improves efficiency and increases sales.
With 35 percent of global travel revenues from sales on mobile expected to reach $290.5 billion by 2017, this means more and more companies will consider customer engagement as a key part of their strategy