One look at industry wide customer satisfaction numbers for online travel speak for themselves; they’re abysmal.
offer random cash back
Are you nuts? You want me to give money away !@#$!@#?? I know how low your margins are. Relax. Start with the customers booking for the 2nd or 3rd time. If you don’t have a system to track that, your punishment is randomly giving money away. Call customers and ask what their favorite charity is and give the rebate to them. Better yet, give $500 USD (or some %) every month to a different cause.
Make me feel like I’m your only customer. I wrote a whole post on personalization that I think every OTA should start to implement. Make the traveler feel special and you’ll marvel at your higher revenue & conversion rates. Whether it’s “Dear Abrar” and not “Dear Traveler” on e-mails, to calling after my trip to see how things went, to more intricate customizations like answering the phone in my name (based on my Caller ID).
TAKE INCOMING SALES & SERVICE CALLS
Don’t listen to them, answer them. I learned more on those calls than I ever did on the weekly status reports I received. Use the exact same systems and processes your agents do. You’re no longer the CEO or Owner, you’re Joe Travel Agent answering the phone. How many times do you need ‘manager approval’? How many times did you need to ask for help? How many ‘clicks’ on your agency CRM and GDS system did it take you to complete a transaction?
BOOK THE WAY CUSTOMERS DO
Buy using the exact purchasing flow your customers do. Goes for online or offline purchases. I made the mistake of buying through ‘internal’ channels for my own trips. I would email or call one of our agents, put multiple reservations on hold, they’d call ticketing when I was ready and I was done a few minutes later. In case you’ve forgotten, the rapid pricing, rapid ticketing and personalized updates is exactly what your customers want too.
Watch Non-Techie Non-Travel People
Look over their shoulders while buying online or listen while they’re on the phone. Avoid ‘helping’ and ‘explaining’ while this happens. Observe where they stumble, where they needed more information, where they didn’t understand something, if they understood your agents, if the agents actually solved the problem or not. Much to be learned.
CONTACT CUSTOMER SERVICE THE WAY CUSTOMERS DO
You thought buying as a customer was eye opening? Try doing a ticket change/cancellation with those ‘rules’ you setup for agents. Even if you know changes are not allowed, call anyway. See what your agents say. Speak to a manager. If you work at a big enough company or an offshore call center, chances are they don’t know you’re the CEO of the company so don’t worry about changing your name, etc.
call customers and talk to them
Here’s an idea, call your customers. Shoot the breeze. Get to know them. Tell them you’re the CEO and their booking has been ticketed and you wanted to say thank you. You’ll be AMAZED at their reactions. One, that management called (bigger the agency the more effective!). Two, that somebody called at all. Isn’t that sad?
I know you don’t have time to call everybody but you can call somebody. Now that the customer is in a good mood, ask them a few questions like “why did they book” and “who else did they consider” and “how much cheaper/higher your OTA was?”.
Does this work? YES.
I know, I did it. It took me a few years to figure it out but I did.