Now that the pent-up travel demand is here, the challenge is to ensure you have the means to meet your customers’ needs without exhausting your staff.
We’ve emerged from the pandemic with fewer hands on deck, with some industry workers joining the Great Resignation movement and seeking employment in other sectors. The resulting deficit in skills and manpower can cause those who remain to feel overwhelmed with a bigger workload, while it’s becoming harder than ever to attract new talent. This kind of pressure is unsustainable.
Bouncing back strongly and building back better in a resource-strapped environment calls for an agile response. Until we can lure more skilled workers back into the fray, technology can offer some support.
So, how do you alleviate the pressure to retain your existing staff, optimise operational efficiencies, and create favourable conditions for recruitment? The best way to do this is to simplify your operations and processes, and to do it in a way that is affordable and supports your business objectives.
During the pandemic, you probably used the time to reflect on which of your operational processes consumed more time and money than they added value. You may also have culled certain processes and tools for the short-term. As you plan for the present and near-future, it’s worth redoing your audits. Ask yourself these questions:
- What level of control do you have of your marketing assets wherever they’re used? If you work in hospitality, how efficiently are you dealing with increasing content requests from trade partners? The more disparate the channels, the more pressure on your team to monitor how your products are represented and to distribute your assets.
- How widely have you cast your net with generic offerings in the hope they will land with as many prospective customers as possible? This puts your team under pressure to try to be everything to everyone, or to sell someone something they may not be interested in.
- Have you reverted back to your pre-pandemic communications and booking processes? This might be untenable for your staff when they’re already multitasking and trying to keep up with increasing demand.
- Have you identified your current skills gaps? In some cases, there may be an impact on the service you provide; in other cases, the impact may be on product development and operations.
Automation, AI and apps – the new staff support
By now, people are accustomed to doing everything online (and expect a professional, user-friendly experience). By automating your enquiry, booking and payment processes, you make it easier and more efficient for both your team and clients. For your existing staff, any such solutions you implement must offer them the kind of support that enables them to devote precious time and energy to serving your customers – providing the personal, human touch that travellers continue to desire from their buyer journey.
Expedite repetitive tasks that are typically resource-heavy to free staff to focus on parts of the job they prefer and enjoy – this helps make it more fun and easier to turn up for work every day.
Consider the following:
- Chatbots for your everyday customer service requirements – based on your FAQs and standard service requirements, you could implement an automated reply system to deal with the more ‘mundane’ queries, while your staff deal with more complex issues. Your clients can enjoy quick service, potentially 24/7, regardless of where in the world their enquiries originate.
- Short on concierge staff or current destination information? Apps offering localised digital destination, restaurant and entertainment guides can direct customers during travel, helping them plan activities and navigate by themselves.
- Digital check-ins, room keys for hotel guests, and any of the Covid-precautionary, contactless innovations popularised during the pandemic.
- Centralised marketing assets with automatically updated changes – with all your data managed and accessed in one place, your staff benefit from shared expertise. It saves everyone from repeating product and destination research, and can become a source of business intelligence, even a training resource.
- Automated reminders set up in a calendar system that keeps track of tour bookings and enquiries – consultants can be notified when certain operational tasks are due.
- Automated website tracking – this takes care of the back-end analytical work to monitor its performance and identify what changes are required. Phocuswire recommends using Site24x7 to monitor the experience of real users on your website from all devices. This frees your staff to focus on updating your website content and user-experience.
- Software integrations to help optimise staff efficiency and boost productivity – travellers could check live availability and book accommodation or activities directly; tour consultants could create proposals and produce accurate quotes simultaneously, saving time and effort.
If I had 6 hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first 4 hours sharpening the axe” – Abraham Lincoln
For now, and potentially for the future of our industry, technology can offer some respite from the overwhelm of being under-resourced and under pressure to respond quickly to new demand. Where you identify areas to simplify your processes, check in with us to learn how Wetu can help you sharpen that axe.