Reliable access to responsive customer service is critical for those who manage ever-evolving travel programs. In a world where technology has created new ways to interact, travel managers should be able to lean on their trusted partners to provide elevated service and expertise regarding which communication tools make sense for their travel program.
Gone are the days of single communication methods. Instead, businesses can benefit from working with a partner who customizes the relationship and provides them with a variety of options. This pairing of personalization and communication is part of an omnichannel service approach.
Below we explain why this is the right strategy for your business and how it can improve your travel program.
What is Omnichannel Service?
Omnichannel strategy involves serving customers in multiple ways and across several channels. This creates a holistic experience, regardless of how or where the customer needs assistance.
For instance, a client with a large global presence could prefer email communication for routine country updates but may choose a phone call to discuss an upcoming change to visa requirements in a key market. Alternatively, a quick text may be acceptable when the client is on the go, but they might suggest in-person meetings for more official check-ins.
Regardless of what channel the customer prefers to use and when they choose to use it, their experience should be the same. Omnichannel service is more than checking the customer service box. Rather, it is about making sure the customer is heard, understood, and valued every step of the way.
Omnichannel Offerings for Travel Programs
A travel partner who takes an omnichannel approach to service can assist across all communication channels – from phone calls and emails to chat and text messages. When evaluating the level of support your organization needs, ask your travel management company (TMC) if you have access to a 24/7 support team. Confirm if they have account managers who are progressive travel program analysts enabling them to think outside the box and interpret how industry shifts may impact your business travel.
Consider these specific communication methods and how each can be a useful tactic for your travel program with an omnichannel model:
A phone call is a traditional form of communication that continues to be an effective way to make direct contact with an individual team member. A travel manager should take comfort knowing they can jump on a call with their travel partner, especially if they are dealing with a time-sensitive situation such as an employee with a complex itinerary.
At Direct Travel, our experienced advisors are quick to assist travelers voice-to-voice. This is especially true if a client is faced with urgent route changes, like when a distressed frontline worker needed immediate travel options.
Email interactions are a classic way to communicate concisely and professionally, particularly when announcing a broad change or advisory to a large audience. When working with your travel management company, ensure that they understand and honor your email communication preferences.
Many companies find value in having their travelers receive automatic messages, especially when their destination is unfamiliar or potentially unsafe. Direct Travel’s approach to risk management includes an option for automatic email updates, which provide travelers with essential transportation, health, weather, and security information.
Instant messaging is a reliable way to communicate quickly or frequently, especially for simple tasks that often do not require the expertise of a travel advisor. Waiting for a phone call or writing out an email for these requests may be unnecessarily formal and waste time.
For example, our team found that more than 40% of our frontline interactions could be automated with AI to deliver faster results via chat. These communications can be further streamlined by incorporating chat directly into the platforms used by employees. This is why we’ve made our AI-powered virtual assistant Simon available across multiple workplace collaboration tools, such as MS Teams and Slack.
AI solutions like Simon can also enhance decision-making with predictive analytics, which can help your travel partners anticipate travel disruptions and provide you with proactive solutions. These can be communicated by chat or any other channel of your choice.
Benefits of Adding an Omnichannel Strategy
An omnichannel approach to service is a natural fit for corporate travel. All communication channels are backed by experienced advisors who provide your team with responsive service when and where you need it. This strategy provides value to your travel program in the following ways:
Omnichannel service gives customers the choice to use whichever communication channel they are most comfortable with. There are always multiple service touchpoints available, so the service becomes effortlessly embedded within an organization’s daily digital ecosystem.
While the luxury of having convenient access to immediate service is certainly helpful for standard business operations, it is irreplaceable during times of crisis. Our team at Direct Travel knows this firsthand, as evidenced by a recent incident when a client of ours was impacted by a hurricane. Despite their large hotel program, the client was unable to independently locate available hotel rooms for their emergency repair team members.
Our omnichannel approach was more than a convenience in this case: It was the key to getting their employees safe lodging. We used all communication channels to keep the client informed as we simultaneously secured a significant number of hotel rooms, all within a short period of time. The client appreciated our dedication and expressed that our omnichannel approach exceeded their expectations for an emergency response.
Enlisting an omnichannel strategy ensures the customer experience is consistent across all channels. However, because each travel program is different, the experience can and should be tailored to fit your organization’s unique needs.
At Direct Travel, we store our client’s travel preferences in our profile platform and their transactional history is available with simple access. As a trusted travel advisor, we pride ourselves in making every customer interaction feel easy and familiar.
Access to Technology
Omnichannel service gives travel advisors access to technology for a more centralized travel management experience. For instance, itinerary management at Direct Travel and our Direct2U mobile app’s new integration are both available via Teams. This gives travelers the ability to manage trip reservations and access flight status updates, destination guides, and cultural information quickly and easily.
Your One-Stop Travel Hub
An omnichannel strategy for your travel program provides you with more than convenience, it gives you a comprehensive travel management ecosystem. With integrated platforms, technological solutions, and multiple service touchpoints available, omnichannel service redefines efficiency and personalization in business travel.
The Direct Travel team gives all our clients access to this omnichannel approach as part of our “Whatever It Takes” commitment to supporting your business needs and program goals. If you are ready to see how omnichannel service can help transform your travel program, contact our team to get started.