Great Travel and Hospitality Experiences Result From Extensive Testing With Real Users
As travel and hospitality — one of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic — makes its gradual recovery, how organizations handle guest expectations, pent-up demand and the resulting customer journeys will be more key than ever. Staffing shortages, rising fuel costs and other critical factors put more pressure on service providers and require a heightened focus on frictionless digital and in-person experiences.
With the rising need for efficient technologies comes the ever-increasing customer expectation that accompanies higher charges for the services requested. Astute travel and hospitality organizations understand that when prices rise, there is also a concurrent opportunity for added value, whether in the digital or physical world.
The State of Digital Quality for Travel and Hospitality
We just released a new report, State of Digital Quality for Travel and Hospitality 2022. We cover the common bugs that we found in our global work with firms from January 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021. We illustrate the impacts these bugs can have in the travel and hospitality industry, and how software development and testing teams must consider their own digital quality - and how it impacts their customers. You can view our infographic for a quick overview of key points. As it’s critical to test across your customers’ most common devices and configurations, I provide a summary of what makes up our report in this regard:
Mobile OS versions
Mobile web browsers
Desktop web browsers
Desktop OS versions
In this blog:
I give a recent example of a poor experience in my customer journey, and
a few travel and hospitality customer journey insights from our new report
Travel-related purchase gone wrong: how real-world testers would have made the difference
I was recently finishing the purchase of a rental house for a long-weekend trip for this coming fall to meet with friends. With a previous experience, I learned that the insurance our group had purchased through the online home rental service had a hard-to-meet Covid reimbursement requirement of having your doctor witness you taking an at-home test on video or in person. With doctors under enormous strain from the pandemic, we had not been able to meet that requirement, and learned the hard way to read the fine print on travel insurance.
For this upcoming trip, I called my insurance company to investigate options and was referred to a third-party partner insurer. Despite many attempts, I could not reach the company by phone to get a few specific questions answered about coverage when canceling a trip because of Covid. Ultimately, I had to use their website to investigate the policy. The web experience was very poor.
As can be the case with insurance policies (but shouldn’t be), there was an overwhelming amount of detail around what types of cancellations qualified for reimbursement — but strangely — nothing specifically about canceling due to Covid. Hard to believe these days. Ultimately, I found a “cancel for any reason” section, which, even though it didn’t mention Covid, enabled a purchaser to cancel regardless of the cause.
I thought about how much better my customer journey could have been if I trusted the rental site’s insurance or had this recommended insurance company tested their website with real users. It made me consider what we do at Applause every day with our customers around the world. While insurance falls typically within the finance sector, travel companies must consider who they partner with and how their partners treat their customers. Travelers consider the ecosystem of travel and hospitality companies, and if something goes wrong, it’s guilt by association. In my case, the online rental service didn’t provide an insurance product that was useful for what I needed. My insurance company handed off the service to a partner, and that partner had a confusing website and product. Bottom line: I won’t be going back to them anytime soon.
3 Considerations for customer journey in travel and hospitality
Across industries, the lines between online and offline experiences are blurring — and every interaction shapes a customer’s perception of your brand. Digital quality is part of the equation; to deliver exceptional experiences, great digital must couple with high-quality physical interactions. Here are three insights from our report that we’ve learned from working with our global customers in travel and hospitality:
Test to ensure a frictionless blended customer experience
As travel and hospitality experiences almost always blend digital and physical elements, it’s imperative for operators to test the entire customer journey thoroughly. Ensure an easy-to-use digital customer engagement that sets clear expectations. Beyond the ability to make travel arrangements or place orders online, customers want to know if they can check in for flights and hotels or pick up rental cars via an app. Once travelers arrive at their destinations, they want to immerse themselves in local attractions: historic landmarks, museums, parks, beaches, wildlife preserves, restaurants, stores, cafes and more. Can customers easily find where they need to go? Do amenities match the reservation and online description? Does touchless/contact-free room access work as expected? Testers must look carefully at the finer points within this entire process.
Make travelers feel valued and as secure as possible
As third-party booking services have increased in popularity over time, with their aggregating convenience comes the question of the single point of contact for issues arising during the trip. What happens if a flight is canceled, a hotel booking is not recorded at the receiving hotel, or some other unforeseen issue occurs? Even when travelers have a central point of contact, do you know if the app or the website they require will work with their mobile phone where they are? Has the app been tested at popular tourist attractions around the world for mobile coverage? Was it tested by local users in native language and various dialects? Is it culturally sensitive? It’s key for travelers to know they have a safety net, and thoroughly testing your apps around the globe on various networks and under specific conditions with local users creates the sense of confidence travelers require.
Solicit feedback beyond your employees and rewards members
Addressing one aspect of the insecurity on the minds of travel customers, Applause currently works with a major global airline provider to ensure that short message service (SMS) works around the world with its travelers. This takes the worry out of emergency correspondence while traveling and also serves as a feedback mechanism for issues travelers experience related to their trip. However, if the airline wants to gain feedback on customer touchpoints with its brand when tickets are purchased through a third-party travel service, it must consider using a crowdsourced testing model, where real-world testers evaluate the customer journey provided through the third-party travel service. This, in addition to soliciting feedback from existing customers enrolled in a frequent-flier program and employees, will provide a 360-degree view of the customer journey and illuminate areas that need attention.
Download our report, State of Digital Quality in Travel & Hospitality 2022:
Ever-increasing customer expectations and fierce competition mean travel & hospitality organizations can’t afford mistakes.Read 'State of Digital Quality in Travel & Hospitality' Now
You can use our report to see how your brand compares and identify ways to improve your digital quality, regardless of your company’s maturity level. Your organization can consider:
How you conduct the comprehensive testing necessary to deliver satisfying digital customer experiences
Whether you have a blend of test automation, manual functional testing, structured test cases and exploratory testing that delivers the most value for your business and customers
Where you can create more inclusive experiences that appeal to the broadest possible audience, as new legislation prioritizes accessibility and inclusive experience for all
How you foster a culture of quality that delivers far-reaching benefits