Managing crises in the travel industry: how technology can help

Feb 17, 2021

We discuss how to technology can make crisis management easier.



There are some industries where everything happens online, or inside a building behind closed doors. Industries that, like a can of coke, will taste just as good (or bad) regardless of what is happening outside. Then, there are industries like transportation or tourism where all hell could break loose at any moment due to bad weather, roadworks, strikes, and a whole host of other things.

For communications, marketing, or customer service professionals, these are challenging industries to work in, where having enough resources to deal with crises can be almost impossible. Companies put a lot of effort into preparing for various scenarios, but the key challenge of being able to suddenly increase the volume of communications often remains unaddressed.

When crisis meets seasonality

In industries like tourism and travel, the situation is sometimes made worse by seasonality. When a difficult situation happens to coincide with a peak in the season, a company can find that its already overstretched communication teams simply don’t have the bandwidth to take on more work.

In a previous article about seasonality, we explained how its effects could be mitigated by focusing the efforts of experienced customer support agents on the most difficult cases and allow automated systems to handle standard interactions. This system is also effective in some of the milder crises, that in the industry are euphemistically called “contingencies”, but for cases where travelers are stressed or nervous, a different approach might be needed.

Augmenting human to human conversations

As one of our team members, who worked in travel for more than 10 years, can attest, stressed out passengers can often be hard to deal with, especially in a crisis situation. Their messages are frequently contradictory or incoherent, and an automated system or an inexperienced agent can struggle to deal with them.

Handling these situations correctly often involves an “anger reduction” stage where the agent works to calm the person down and identify the problem. Once a problem is identified, the agent then needs to multitask and try to keep the traveler in a (relatively) positive state of mind while they work feverishly to solve the problem through the company’s reservations, CRM, and operational systems.

It can be an incredibly demanding and time-consuming job that can be made a lot easier and faster if the agent only has to focus on the emotional aspect of the interaction. To achieve this, smart companies can use the “helper bot method” where a chatbot is used to interact with the company’s systems and provide draft responses, pre-filled with all the necessary information, that the human agent can then verify and send on to the customer.

The details of the solution and the best way to implement it will, of course, vary from company to company, and it is extremely important to have a reliable partner that can create a custom-made system based on a detailed analysis of the company’s situation. To learn more about how your company could improve its crisis response please reach out to our team using the contact link below.