Listening to customers

By | Category: Travel rumblings
empty deckchair on a beach

Care for customers or lose them is the ETOA message!

Any travel business that fails to listen to its customers or delivers a sub-standard service is liable to be taken out rapidly by a new competitor. That was the message to the European Tour Operators Association (ETOA) last week, a message with which Just About Travel heartily agrees.

And it is the non-traditional travel companies that are making waves and alerting the traditional travel industry.

For example, Google is developing new technologies to give the consumer a better travel experience, with more relevant information and a path to making a booking via a partner company, from Expedia to Lufthansa. Google is an online travel agent in all by name with its partners being the subject of its largesse. In the future might not Google remove these partners and operate the whole procedure itself?

Google’s latest apps include Google Flight, which facilitates flight searching, Google Trips which is designed to enhance the experience in the destination without needing an internet connection (it integrates with  Gmail accounts to know where the person is going and staying) and Google Now an app that figures out answers relevant to where the customer is.

At the meeting last week, Philip Ries from Google said that the company would “continually look to find travel experiences that it considered to be ‘broken’ and to offer the consumer a better solution.

To compete with this, traditional travel agencies, tour operators, hoteliers and every other part of the travel industry will have to pay more attention to their customers both in terms of listening to them, responding if there is a problem and resolving it. They will also have to make it as easy as possible for the customer to book whilst at the same time respecting the customer’s demand for privacy as laid out in the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation known as GDPR.

In the opinion of Just about Travel, online travel companies have not realised the implications of GDPR and nor has the travelling public so the companies that will be successful are ging to be those who understand the relationship between making a sale, caring for the customer and selling them a product or service.

Wrapping up the meeting, Tom Jenkins, CEO of ETOA summarised the importance of customer care by saying  “The travel industry will thrive when new, better services replace those that have passed their sell-by date and such progress is to be encouraged.”

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