Customer experience in travel

By | Category: Travel news
image of an Emirates flight

Emirates – the best placed travel company at number 4

In the annual customer experience survey published by KPMG Nunwood, the travel and hospitality industry doesn’t come out of it as well as it should.

Although the survey sounds big at 10,000 consumers, by the time you break that down by different industry sectors and the 287 companies it is possible that some brands may have only a few responses. Having mentioned what might be a minor caveat, the survey results show that  some brands in travel and hospitality did see some of the biggest improvement over last year. Many more have a long way to go.

KPMG Nunwood say that there are six pillars for customer experience These are personalisation, integrity, managing expectations, resolution in being able to turn a poor experience into a great one; time and effort so that customers have as little complications as possible to achieve what they want and finally empathy meaning an understanding of what the customer is trying to do.

all three Virgin travel brands - Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Holidays and Virgin Trains did well

all three Virgin travel brands – Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Holidays and Virgin Trains did well

So how did the travel industry in meeting these objectives? Only Emirates appeared in the top 10 of companies which was led by the online bank, First Direct.

The report says that airlines and hotels were leading the way in both customer experience innovation and experience quality through people. What that means is that the sector spent more effort on staff training and that the training was paying off in improved customer experience.

The report drew attention to low cost airlines noting that only Jet 2 made it into the top 100. As low cost-airlines are having to compete on things other than price given the competitive nature of the airline industry, airlines are having to improve customers service and probably the best example of that change is Ryanair which has yet to make it into any position in  the rankings. But they are trying and their CEO, Michael O’Leary trumpets that their customer policy is delivering dividends.

Emirates is praised for its “exceptional politeness and memorable moments” whilst Virgin Atlantic provides “quirky, light hearted touches.” British Airways is also singled out for its social media work as queries are answered within minutes. If the report had been written after last weekend, the authors might have mentioned Monarch’s social media person who responded rapidly to queries over the weekend when rumours spread that the airline was in financial difficulties.

image of a British Airways plane

and British Airways responds to social media queries quickly

Attention was also drawn to Virgin Trains which uses social media “to make life easier for passengers.” The report makes no mention of Southern Trains which, some passengers would say, offers an entirely different passenger experience!

Saga, Travelodge, Eurostar, American Airlines, Virgin Holidays, Premier Inn and Marriott score points for improving their customer experience over the last year.

Overall what does the report tell us? In an industry where customer service should be pre-eminent and satisfaction is measured consistently and thoroughly compared to other industries there are still only a couple of handfuls of companies showing the way.

Customers expect more and whilst it would be churlish not to thanks those that are achieving improved figures, the rest of the travel industry seems to have a long way to go.

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