The Future of Customer Experience: HEDNA Takeaways for the Travel Industry

Attending conferences is one of the many ways that our Customer Experience team keeps tabs on the pulse of the hospitality industry. I recently attended the HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) conference in Madrid where I got a chance to connect with some of our amazing customers. I also had the opportunity to attend a few sessions led by some very impressive speakers.

Here are some of my takeaways from the conference:

1. Customer experience must come first

There were multiple panels that focused on customer experience. Travel technology, whether it’s facing the end consumer or not, has to be customer focused. One of the most memorable points for me was that how we make customers feel is what matters most.

“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

2. See the world through the eyes of the customer

One of the speakers, Robert Craven, Business Coach at the Directors’ Centre, emphasized the importance of putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. One of the ways we deliver superior customer service at Leonardo is by seeing our services from our customers’ point of view. We’re talking to our customers all the time – whether it’s during a Quarterly Business Review, regular face-to-face meetings with clients, or a demo of a new product we’re working on, we use the insights we gain from our customers to evolve our products.

3. Bridge the service and delivery gap

One of the recurring themes at HEDNA was how to bridge the gap between service and delivery. This theme was particularly relevant as it’s something we’re committed to in our own business. Robert Craven, spoke about the importance of this topic. Here are the strategies that stuck in my mind:

  • Ask important questions How do customers use your services? How do your services fit into their day?
  • Use your customers’ language—your team may have internal jargon to make things simpler, but Natalie Nahai, an expert in web psychology, spoke about how essential it is to talk about your products and solutions using the same vocabulary as your customers
  • Ease is essential—create a buying journey with a consistent visual design that the customer will never second guess their decision
  • Consider the handoff—transitioning from one team to another is where the customer experience most often breaks down; every time you do that hand off, consider every element of how you transfer customers between teams

Person jumping between rocks

4. Evolving the travel experience: attribute-based selling

Travel consumer demands and expectations are constantly changing. What and how you’re selling must evolve to meet them. Empowering travel consumers to customize their experience and giving them more choice is the way forward.

Consider the experience of buying a consumer product online. The e-commerce experience today is full of recommendations and last minute add-ons. Airlines are already doing this by allowing customers to book the lowest fare possible then select add-ons for bags, seats, meals, and so on. Many hotels only provide add-ons outside the hotel room. The next step in hotel customer experience is allowing travel shoppers to explore and select specific room amenities and features online, before they check-in.

For travel suppliers, displaying high quality photos that showcase specific features and amenities within a hotel room needs to be part of any attribute selling strategy. Talk to us about how we can help.