Human contact might not be as important as travel agents believe, according to a report from Amadeus.
The Human Touch to Human Tech study says that while agents might see face-to-face contact as the thing travelers most value, travelers say friendly communications and being available by phone 24/7 are more important.
It seems even millennials and Gen Z also value over-the-phone contact, despite some thinking it is only for older generations.
The conclusion of the study is that a human-tech hybrid approach will win going forward.
It’s not the first time that travel companies, especially those that sit between technology and humans, have highlighted this as a trend.
Research from Travelport last year revealed that business travelers were seeking a blend of digital solutions and human interaction.
However, as the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, many travel companies, acknowledging the need to stem losses and drive efficiency, have predicted greater automation in the future.
The Amadeus report says that the crisis has demonstrated the need for humans who can instill trust and build confidence.
But it also says the pandemic has highlighted where technology such as artificial intelligence can alleviate some of the burden on humans.
The study points to chatbots that help customers with queries, as well as more sophisticated implementations of machine learning in areas such as dynamic pricing.
Amadeus recently introduced its Travel-19 chatbot as a repository for the latest travel updates relating to the pandemic to help travelers plan trips.
The bot brings together links of public information to a single interface to help travelers plan trips. The concept was created by 100 volunteers from within Amadeus who sourced the links.
The end result is human touch and tech, each enhancing what the other does, Amadeus says.
The company also points to a Harvard Business Review study, published last year, which dispels some of the myths around how disruptive digital might be and shows how companies adopting a hybrid approach can improve performance.