From Booking to Boarding: How to deliver exceptional pre-travel customer service

June 16, 2022

‘Ghosting’ – the practice of withdrawing from communication suddenly and without explanation – is a term usually applied to the world of dating, but no less applicable to the travel industry. We all know time and resources are stretched. But technology can help to plug that gap and help consultants engage with clients throughout their journey, from booking to boarding and beyond.

Followers of Vamoos will know the app was originally intended for use whilst on holiday. But when initial research showed 66% of Vamoos usage to be in the post-booking, pre-travel stage, it revealed a powerful insight: excitement and anticipation is as important a stage of the holiday to clients as the trip itself. Subsequent analysis, feedback and focus groups have only reinforced this notion.

So, partnered with our friends at AITO, we brought together a panel of luxury experts from the AITO network to discuss their experiences of the ‘booking to boarding’ stage. Watch the video here or read on below to discover their insights.

Clients Want Engagement from Day 1

When boutique tour operator Fleewinter trialled giving clients access to Vamoos immediately after booking rather than when the whole trip balance had been paid, they saw app downloads skyrocket from 40-50% to 90%. It didn’t matter if not all the information was loaded – the important thing was giving clients something in return immediately after a deposit was paid.

Stats are one thing, but it can be helpful to put yourself in the shoes of a client. Alisdair Luxmoore shared the experience of a client who, after a terrible day at work and a run-in with his boss, had sat down on the tube, taken his phone out and started flicking through his trip on the Vamoos app. Within minutes he felt better.

Wildlife Trails CEO Alan Blanchard agrees – tour operators can build anticipation with a continuum of easy, digital engagement.  As AITO CEO Martyn Sumners puts it, it’s all about making the customer feel like they’re your priority at any given moment.

Always be one step ahead

Having trip information all in one place will streamline the experience for your team whilst enhancing client experience – regardless of how you choose to do it.

Alan found that by drip-feeding information onto the app in a tried and tested way, clients no longer needed to get in touch to ask the same standard questions – allowing them to add value by always being one step ahead of client queries. Meanwhile by uploading everything onto Vamoos immediately post-confirmation, Experience Travel Group (ETG)’s clients can refer back to it at any time, meaning their personalised, one-to-one touchpoints to be more niche and valuable.

Alongside this, offering a channel for clients to contact third parties also minimises the risk of people opting to contact or even directly book those hotels or experiences that you’ve curated for them. As Vamoos’ Alisdair Luxmoore points out, OTAs like Booking.com and AirBnB have gotten really good at this. There’s a growing risk of falling behind without adopting the industry’s digital trends.

No need to compromise your brand

ETG Co-founder Sam Clark puts it clearly: start by thinking about what your brand is doing and the value you bring to your audience. Digital solutions can be easily adapted to fit your brand and your purpose.

For ETG, it’s all about reassuring clients in that inevitable moment of panic before they travel. Whether it’s the last-minute packing scare for the more comfortable traveller, or the three-months-ahead Covid wobbly for the first-time adventurer, they make it their mission to be there for their client with the information they need at that time. Without this, clients wouldn’t feel ready to push themselves and have the adventure associated with the ETG brand.

Meanwhile for Haslemere Travel Owner Gemma Antrobus, an app is a powerful supplement for their older or more luxury clients. A digital background experience can bring to life the leather-bound, coffee table trip documents that this demographic still crave.

Or perhaps like Wildlife Trails, you offer a niche segment of travel associated with specific kit lists and requirements, in which case providing this information at apt times throughout the client journey might form the basis of your app. Whatever it is – digital can handle it.

With all this in mind, it’s not surprising that tour operators offering Vamoos in the booking to boarding stage have up to 50% higher rebooking rates. To enhance your customer service and promote repeat business, get in touch to book a free, personalised demo.

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