COVID-19 is a crisis not like anything the world has seen before. First and foremost, the most important thing is to flatten the curve and allow the world’s health systems to better treat those who have gotten sick. That means staying home, washing your hands, and binge-watching all those TV series you wanted to catch up on.
With countries closing borders and locking down cities, people aren’t leaving the house, much less traveling. While this is necessary to contain the spread of the virus and keep people safe, it has also had a disastrous impact on travel companies. The airline industry alone is forecast to lose $252 billion this year.
Let’s be frank here, most of us in the travel industry are in a state of survival. We’re all being forced to make tough choices to keep our companies running. Despite cutting costs and activating emergency plans, the unfortunate reality is that not every travel organization is going to be able to weather this storm.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom.
Times of crisis have a tendency to bring people together. The same thing applies to the business world. While Mindsay is still a young company, we want to do our part to help our partners in the travel industry.
Despite needing to cut support costs, the travel industry is dealing with an unprecedented number of support requests. To help travel companies tackle this challenge, we’ve built an intelligent AI chatbot specialized in COVID-19.
Here’s the added bonus: it’s free (for 3 months).
It’s our way of trying to help our fellow travel companies get through this difficult time.
Travel companies are trying to manage a tsunami of customer support requests while, at the same time, reducing costs. This puts support staff, customers, and the organizations themselves in a bad spot.
As companies downsize, their customer service teams are less able to manage the enormous volume of cancellation, rebooking, and reimbursement requests. These volumes are far beyond what the support centers were designed to handle during the best of times. Now, there are even fewer agents than before. Even more extraordinarily, most of these requests are time-sensitive, coming from people who were planning to travel within the next 3 months. The result has been customers waiting for hours before connecting with an agent.
There’s also the financial side of things. With each refund, travel companies need to send money back to their customers. Normally, this is fine. However, with a huge influx of refund requests, travel companies’ cash flows are under serious strain.
It’s a tough situation and there’s a lot to unpack. How can travel companies cut costs and provide good customer service at the same time? Can they somehow reduce cash outflows?
That’s the aim of our bot. It’s been designed to automatically answer customer questions related to COVID-19 and help with cancellations and vouchers. Vouchers are an especially important tool as they allow travel companies to keep their customers satisfied while reducing cash outflows.
Thankfully, this crisis will eventually pass. So, travel companies should also be preparing for the post-coronavirus world. It will take a while for travel demand to return to 2019 levels. However, things are going to improve.
The companies who are prepared to move back to regular operations without having lost the confidence of their customers will be the ones who will be in the best position to succeed. While the current challenges should rightfully command the major of the travel industry’s time and attention, they should also keep an eye on the future to set themselves up for success.
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