The pervasive feelings of fear and uncertainty evoked by the COVID‐19 pandemic have elevated the characteristics of trust, confidence and responsiveness to the highest priorities for both consumers and companies.
Nowhere has this been more evident than in the travel and hospitality industries.
As the coronavirus infiltrated countries around the globe in early 2020, airlines, cruise companies and hotels scrambled to transform their business strategies and address customer concerns ‐ all while keeping their employees and guests safe from the virus.
No doubt, it has been a period of unprecedented challenges.
As travel brands have mobilized to respond to these challenges – and to reinforce those concepts of trust, confidence and responsiveness – Salesforce is working with them every step of the way.
Using Salesforce’s suite of cloud products, companies have been able to quickly and efficiently adapt to this ongoing crisis and to leverage a 360-degree view of their customers to instill the confidence and trust needed to get them traveling again.
Airlines, hotels, cruise lines and tour operators are turning to Salesforce to help them with three key strategies for recovery:
1. Building a "health trust"
With more than one million deaths worldwide from COVID‐19, it’s no surprise that health, hygiene and safety are priorities for people around the world. Travel brands have to address these concerns for their employees and their customers – both groups are craving information and transparency about policies and procedures that have been put in place to mitigate their risk.
In June, Salesforce released Work.com for Customer 360. After success with more than 35 state and local government entities utilizing Work.com capabilities, the private sector began to follow as companies started to reopen for business.
Using Work.com, companies can manage preventative measures like wellness and temperature checks; surveillance solutions for positive cases, such as communication during quarantine and contact tracing with staff and guests to control spread; and tools for training and reskilling to help employees understand how to implement new health and safety protocols.
And because Customer 360 provides a holistic view of the traveler, customers can expedite contract tracing since they have data on the traveler’s movements and interactions.
2. Creating a recovery marketing strategy
Effective marketing has always been about personalization, but now with the issue of COVID‐19 at the forefront, hyper-personalization is more critical than ever.
“Everyone has a different risk tolerance and when we think about safety, we have different opinions of what that means,” says Evan Stowers, Saleforce’s Go‐To‐Market Senior Manager for Travel and Hospitality.
“So, it’s more important than ever to curate targeted content and offers to travelers based on their individual preferences when it comes to travel and experiences.”
Using Salesforce’s Customer 360’s single view of the traveler, brands can speak to their customers with the right message, at the right time, on the right platform. In the case of a hotel, for example, that might mean ensuring the guest has a clear understanding of what will and won’t be available when they arrive on property and where they can find opportunities for safe experiences, outdoor activities, dining, wellness, etc.
With the power of connected data and AI‐driven marketing, and using the right communication tools, brands can ensure their customers are having a great experience from start to finish.
"You can start with real‐time offers and drive loyalty through personalization for better conversion, better communication, better engagement,” Stowers says.
3. Going digital and contactless
“Travel and hospitality companies will always have that human element, the human‐to‐human contact, but now guests also want the option for digital and contactless,” Stowers says.
Salesforce’s Customer 360 products help brands balance the physical and digital worlds, starting with communications, which can happen through multiple digital channels – text, web, chat, email, etc. Once a traveler is on-site, technology such as digital check‐in, keyless door entry and digital concierge services help to eliminate touchpoints that can create unnecessary concern for travelers.
By creating solutions that respond to customers’ desires to minimize contact, companies can boost brand loyalty and drive sustained growth as travel resumes.
As an example, hotels and resorts are extending the power of Salesforce’s Customer 360 by leveraging AI‐powered chatbots, service and platform to enforce social distancing with digital queues on property.
Work in action
All three of these strategies driven by Salesforce’s Customer 360 work in tandem, creating a holistic solution for both employees and travelers.
Using artificial intelligence, brands can leverage their data to create accurate predictions and recommendations and drive operational efficiencies, enabling employees to work smarter and serve the needs of customers more effectively. And by providing relevant solutions and offers for travelers, brands can build that trust and confidence that is so critical today.
A great example of the Salesforce solutions in action comes from AirAsia.
Since its founding in 2001, the Malaysia-based carrier has been focused on providing world-class service at low fares.
For the past 11 years in a row, AirAsia has been named World’s Best Low-Cost Airline by Skytrax – a particularly meaningful recognition for this “guest-obsessed” airline since it is based on customer reviews.
And that focus on high-quality customer service was put to the test when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
As COVID-19 cases surged, the airline, which flew 100 million customers in 2019, saw its service caseload surge to an average of more than 500,000 per day in March while customers scrambled to deal with cancelled flights, border closures and fast service recovery options.
To address this sudden and dramatic increase in demand, AirAsia took a creative approach: re-skilling more than 1,200 employees from other areas of the company – such as pilots and cabin crew that were not flying due to worldwide travel restrictions – to work in its Customer Happiness team.
With Salesforce, AirAsia was able to quickly re-train these employees on how to route, resolve and manage all customer cases on Service Cloud and how to use Social Studio for social listening and linking to service cases in just a few days.
Salesforce also made it easier for AirAsia to assess and manage the physical and mental health of its Customer Happiness team members as they dealt with the stress of the pandemic both in their professional and personal lives. By hosting daily “team huddles” on Zoom and incorporating fun activities such as games and sing-alongs, AirAsia was able to alleviate some of the isolation and loneliness team members were feeling while working from home.
Another example of this is Australia‐based Bunnik Tours.
Founded in 1995, Bunnik Tours is a family‐operated business specializing in comprehensive, stress‐free holiday packages for groups of no more than 20 people to destinations around the world – and above all, great customer service.
As the COVID‐19 coronavirus began to spread from one country to another in early 2020, Bunnik Tours had to move swiftly to get its clients back to Australia safely.
Thanks to the company’s comprehensive dashboard, built on the Salesforce platform, Bunnik Tours had an accurate view of where each of its customers was across the globe and was able to immediately take action to get them home.
Once those customers’ well‐being was accounted for, the next concern was to address their concerns about refunds. With the news about the virus changing daily ‐ and anxiety and uncertainty at a high – Bunnik Tours’ customer service representatives were inundated with phone calls, emails and messages via chat and social channels.
Using Salesforce CRM, Bunnik Tours was able to have a holistic view of those communications, making it easier for its support staff to respond appropriately and reassuring its customers that their issues were being handled.
In tandem with addressing the immediate concerns of clients amid travel or due refunds for upcoming trips, Bunnik Tours had to make fast decisions about its recovery marketing strategy.
As Australia went into lockdown the third week of March, Bunnik Tours quickly launched a new campaign ‐ “Still dreaming? Still Bunnik Tours” – focused on providing inspiring and interesting content via email and social media to keep its audience engaged, even with travel temporarily on hold.
And as some parts of Australia began to reopen, the company was able to use its database, powered by Salesforce, to segment its customers so it could send relevant messages about specific tour products to the right audiences.
"Salesforce's purpose-built solutions help our customers deliver seamless and personalized experiences in a contactless world, quickly respond to customer inquiries, be increasingly agile and innovative, and emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever,” Stowers says.
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