Evolving a business to address travelers' needs doesn't have a start and end date - it’s a constant flow of change and transition. From how consumers book a hotel to how they submit a travel insurance claim, technology is a given when it comes to customer service.
NB This is a viewpoint by Beth Godlin, president, Aon Affinity Travel Practice.
But in spite of all the technology swirling around us, travelers do still need human interaction from time to time. The key is to know when – when is it easier for travelers to get what they need from an app or a website, and when do they need a live contact to support them
Travel insurance is adapting in response to how consumers now research and buy their travel.
From flights to vacation rentals to cruises, the demand for customized travel protection products continues to grow. The wide variety of offerings and number of channels is providing travelers with more choice than ever. Many options fare now available for instant purchase online, often through mobile devices which align with consumer accessibility expectations.
That’s why we relaunched our Aon Affinity Travel Practice online claim system to make it mobile-first and allow a customer to file a claim on the go. We’ve collaborated with partners and done extensive user testing to make the process more accessible, easier and faster and will continue launching more features, such as providing online status updates on claims and electronic payment reimbursement.
But that has not eliminated the need for real, human customer service. The chatbots and conversational interfaces that are commonplace in the customer service space have not been widely adopted from an insurance sales perspective because customers typically want to know if their specific, personal situation will be covered. People usually only call about their insurance because they are unhappy or distressed due to an issue with their trip, so our process has to be a very human and intuitive one.
How B2B shifts impact the travel insurance industry
Investment in technology is leading to rising sales of travel ancillaries, including insurance. According to the US Travel Insurance Association, the number of plans sold in the U.S. has risen by more than 15 percent since 2012. New B2B tools for analyzing data are helping to update industry practices and customize products to meet consumer demands. In turn, they are helping make supplier workflow more efficient for our customers through product development, analytics and program management software.
Today, we also can use technology to connect more closely to the sellers and to the consumer and simplify the process for the traveler.
For example, if we’re provided with a customer’s itinerary information, we ought to be able to use that information to populate a form and streamline the data entry. We can use technology to help us quickly understand where a customer is having a problem, give information earlier in the process, and ideally, speed things up for the customer.
The long road of change for travel insurance
While it may be at a different pace, travel insurance will continue to evolve as travel evolves. Alternative lodging, such as peer-to-peer vacation rentals, creates the need for new products, such as cancellation insurance or protection from property damage.
Having said that, product development in general can be slow - the US insurance industry is regulated by 50 state departments of insurance for example. So while changes do not happen overnight, the leading firms continue to drive change and innovate to meet new consumer demands and needs.
Underpinning all this is technology and the analytical power that comes with it, helping to simplify the claims process and make it simpler for the industry and the consumer.
It is crucial to study analytics to learn how to speed up the claims process, make it available 24/7 for the consumer, keep it as intuitive as possible, but not lose the very human side of insurance.
NB1: This is a viewpoint by Beth Godlin, president of Aon Affinity Travel Practice. It appears here as part of Tnooz sponsored content initiative.
NB2: For more travel tips and insight, visit Aon's blog.
NB3:Image by BigStock