As consumers become more comfortable with mobile tools for communication and commerce, the disconnect between what travel brands offer and what travelers are looking for is widening.
According to a new report from chat commerce provider Clickatell, nearly nine in 10 consumers say they would prefer to use mobile messaging to communicate with travel agencies. The desire to use mobile messaging tools to communicate with hotels and airlines is higher among younger travelers. Mobile messaging is the preferred method of communication, above email, phone support, and in-person support, for consumers in the Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X cohorts.
“Consumers love convenience. Regardless of age, location and brand preference, all consumers are looking for more convenient and fulfilling commerce experiences,” said Pieter de Villiers, CEO and co-founder of Clickatell.
Seventy-seven percent of travelers say they would be likely to make travel purchases through mobile payment if given the opportunity, but only 27% say they’ve had the opportunity to do so. This disconnect between what consumers want and what major travel brands currently offer leads to high levels of frustration.
“I see the industry being radically changed by mobile capabilities and chat-based commerce over the next few years,” says de Villiers. “If we think back a few years, mobile boarding passes were not widely adopted, but in 2022 everyone is using their phone to travel. This change in the way we travel today opens the door to greater opportunities for travel brands to reach new, younger audiences.
Soaring hotel prices and increasingly frequent flight delays are causing headaches for travelers, but the means to solve travel problems are still quite limited. According to a Bankrate survey, 79% of consumers who traveled in 2022 said they encountered at least one issue that affected their travel considerations. As experts predict inflation will continue to impact all aspects of travel in the coming year, airlines, hotels and even car rental companies are bracing for tough times. coming.
Consumers surveyed by Clickatell indicated that they would prefer to use mobile messaging to communicate with travel agencies on other channels, primarily because they consider mobile messaging to be the most convenient option.
De Villiers says a number of travel brands are rolling out new features to meet consumers where they are in everyday life, whether on social media, email or via SMS and chat channels like WhatsApp.
“The travel industry is ripe for disruption from a mobile perspective, as consumers are on the go and already using their phones for things like boarding passes and flight updates – but the Mobile messaging aspect of travel customer service hasn’t caught up,” de Villiers said.
With text messages now the primary means of communication with friends and family, de Villiers expects to see more consumers interact with must-have brands using the same method. He says growing consumer demand to use mobile messaging for customer service goes hand-in-hand with brands’ drive to deliver the most seamless experience to their loyal customers.
“Particularly during a time of high travel demand, such as the holiday season, airlines, hotels and rental car companies are seeing their customer services and contact centers struggle to process requests as a simple text update or quick checkout link would solve the problem,” he says. “Consumers already use their cell phones to communicate with friends and family and don’t want to have to call a random customer service line to get a quick update on their hotel reservation…with the ability to travel brands to communicate directly with consumers via mobile messaging and chat, the customer service experience can be significantly simplified.”
De Villiers says travel agencies that want to get the best value from adding chat commerce functionality to their workflows will often start with their customer services. Adding mobile messaging functionality for travelers on the go is a great place to start.
“Travel will always bring myriad frustrations — from delays to room changes to reservation issues,” he says. “By providing consumers with a convenient way to communicate directly with travel brands and enabling businesses to make life easier for customer services through enhanced mobile channels, the overall travel experience can be enhanced and completely different in just a few years.”