Technology, Trust, and the Travel Industry
Many people neglect to realize that today's technological takeover has been in progress for decades. From the very first light bulb, to the invention of the Internet, these creations are the fuel that has propelled us into the present. We only notice technology's rapid evolution now because today's constant experimentation highlights how far our society has come in such a short amount of time.
But, as technology continues to advance at this quickened pace, society has become equally impatient, always determined to stay in the know, especially when it comes to travel. Our technological prowess has morphed us into a global society, allowing us to travel to and connect with countries all over the world. For the travel industry, such technologies have the potential to improve the customer experience and enhance trust to build loyalty.
Jeff Rohrs, vice president of marketing at ExactTarget, highlights how mobile devices have infiltrated the travel space. According to ExactTarget's 2012 Channel Preferences Study, 25 percent of travelers prefer to receive alerts via SMS over any other channels, showcasing the importance of mobile devices within the travel industry today. Because we all carry these miniature computers in our pockets everywhere we go, airlines have the opportunity to share up to the minute flight details in order to curb dissatisfaction in the event of a delay and cultivate trust with proactive measures.
Don Peppers, co-author of Extreme Trust: Honesty as a Competitive Advantage, says, "Technology's inevitable progress means trustability will be the future of every successful business, sooner or later. Competitive pressure will require it."
"Alerts are one opportunity for the airline and hotel industries to fulfill the long offered promise of a one-to-one relationship," says Rohrs. "Brands can then supplement their people with technology that leads to better experiences, clear, accurate, timely information, all through the customers channel of choice." Airlines can also use this opportunity to build trust by proactively solving problems that may arise, such as flight cancellations. Rohrs suggests that, not only should airlines use text alerts to inform passengers of cancellations immediately, but then they may also suggest nearby hotels with vacancies and provide an opportunity to book a room right from their mobile device. This will not only prevent lodging frustrations, but will reduce lines, speed up an already exasperating process, and solidify trust by putting the customers' needs first.
"Businesses need to acknowledge that loyalty isn't just points or incentives," says Rohrs. "What drives business is true loyalty and the customers' desire to come back because of their previous experience. Technology acts the same way by doing something to add to the consumers' experience."
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