Travel Customer Care Excellence, Informed by Social Listening

Niraj Sharma |
 05/23/19 |
2 min read

When we talk about customer care, we now know we’re talking about the entire customer experience – not just isolated moments in-store, or when things go wrong. How does social listening impact customer care in one of the most experiential categories – i.e., Travel & Hospitality? Here are some ways!

Immediacy Is Key

The longer consumers must wait for an answer – particularly when things are going wrong, but not only then – the more likely they will find another brand to do business with in the future. Because they know they have options.

Social listening clues you in to the issues that are top-of-mind for travelers, as well as which matter most. You may assume your hotel’s guests want laundry service, but they may in fact be more passionate about having a workout buddy available.

Understanding what your audience wants – and answering those needs before a competitor does – is crucial to staying on top.

Hertz is one brand we’ve seen taking this idea of maximizing customer touchpoints to heart – with great success. Instead of staying in their “corner,” the rental car company has engaged their customers and encouraged them to include their rental experience as part of their overall travel journey.

This has resulted in an uptick in followers, as well as engagement – beating competitors like Avis. And while some posts still speak to customer service concerns, there is significantly more posting about travel, destinations, road trips, etc. Hertz set out to build on the “shared passion” of vacations and #wanderlust – and they’re crushing it.

You Must Understand Your Service Inside and Out

You can’t hit the touchpoints mentioned above – or achieve any brand goals – without a thorough understanding of your services. This isn’t about what you offer, but rather, how consumers perceive you.

For example, of all the Twitter handles managed by the hotel brand, the most active one is the Hyatt Concierge. Just like a human concierge on site, the virtual concierge is there to make sure everything goes smoothly for Hyatt guests.

There are a couple surprises here:

  • This account is the top author for the brand
  • Sentiment of the interactions are overwhelmingly positive

It would be easy for such an account to become a never-ending stream of complaints, but instead Hyatt Concierge interactions are largely positive resolutions/experiences. Because Hyatt understands its guests and their needs, this channel of customer engagement is a huge asset.

Especially when engagement isn’t mandated by needing to fix a problem, but simply responding:

When you understand the drivers behind the conversation, you can engage appropriately no matter the situation.

Marriott has also seen increased love for their personalization and innovation efforts. But there was a bit of a dip at one point with regard to value. Why the inconsistency?

Digging into the specifics behind the sentiment, however, revealed the negative sentiment was related to changes in hotel tiers as a result of recent mergers, causing a devaluation in loyalty points. Additionally, Vacation Club robocalls were undercutting the personalized approach guests love so much.

But problems are easy to fix once identified – and that’s why social listening is a necessary operational strategy. So you have that opportunity before competitors swoop in.

Take Notice of Competitive Opportunities

Speaking of competitors, as you manage customer care at all levels, competitive intelligence opportunities are sure to arise – so pay attention! If you fail to take care of outlier segments, your competitors will. Better for you to catch them slacking and take advantage than the other way around.

And don’t shrug off smaller competitors without understanding that consumer love is often not proportionate to brand size.

For instance, the difference between larger and smaller airline brands is often that smaller brands like Cathay Pacific may show more focus on inspirational social conversations, while larger brands may see more transactional conversations.

If you want to move into the aspirational/inspirational realm, you need to make your engagement with consumers as authentic and intimate as smaller brands are able to. Social listening will help you understand where to focus your energy.

Tactics like influencers and branded hashtags could make all the difference. So could regularly innovating your brand offerings – something the cruise industry as a whole does exceedingly well. Their experiences are hard to beat – because they are always refining them.

And they get a lot of positively passionate sentiment in return:

No matter what is happening with your brand, category, or industry, you can’t ignore social sentiment. Or if you do, you’ll suffer the consequences.

Social listening and sentiment analysis go hand in hand – and for next-level speed and accuracy, these tools should be boosted by Next Generation AI technology. Anything less is leaving too much on the table – and you can’t assume you’ll have a second chance.

But if you use social listening tools to keep an eye on customer care at every stage of the customer journey, you will have endless chances to delight your customers and audience. Just act on the data coming through, and you’ll always have return guests.

Have you seen our AI Analytics tools in action? Get in touch and we’ll show you one-on-one how they boost social listening and sentiment analysis.


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