Airplane cabin crew

Customer service training in the travel sector

The travel sector is all about the experience, which is intangible, so the use of soft service skills is vital in understanding and meeting the customer’s requirements.

The seat you sit in on your preferred mode of transport and the room you sleep in are tangible and can make a difference to your holiday or business experience. When people travel, however, most of their experience is based on intangible factors.

When selling the holiday or business experience the skills lie in digging deep to discover what the customer truly needs, as they can sometimes have difficulty vocalising it; if you don’t find out, then you’re wasting everyone’s time. Once you discover this, then you have to match what you have to offer, which involves painting a picture so the customer can start to visualise the experience and confirm that this is what they require. This isn’t easy.

It’s about how the customer feels, and how you can best service their requirements to the best of your ability to ensure they remember the feelings they experienced with pleasure, not frustration. Spend time discovering what the customer is interested in, what they like, how they feel, what they expect; then work out ways to deliver.

In addition, over the last few decades travelling for pleasure has become something everyone feels entitled to, not just the privileged few. Travellers have become more demanding and, since the internet explosion, more likely to complain if they aren’t happy than perhaps any other sector, with comments on Trip Advisor becoming a standard reference.

People look forward to their holidays, particularly if they can only afford one a year, and all their emotions are tied up in this experience. The business traveller will have different kinds of emotions tied up with the deal they are trying to make on their trip. In both situations you need to ensure in advance that everything goes to plan.

What if all your best-laid plans go wrong – how do you resolve the situation so that the customer can still feel they had a pleasant and fulfilling experience? With an intangible product you have to tread carefully; one traveller may be able to get over the temporary loss of their baggage and move on, but for another it can ruin their entire trip. Their reaction is not always logical, or necessarily linked to the duration of their stay.

Customer service in the travel sector is therefore about taking the time, gaining trust and establishing a rapport so that you ensure the customer comes back to you next time they travel, as this sector is also all about repeat business.

Our thanks to Karen for writing this page.

Karen is our practice lead for the travel sector. She has worked in the UK and internationally for two large international airlines (Qantas and Saudi Arabian Airlines) in front-facing customer service roles in telephone sales, airport customer services, travel centre counters and agency support, and for over 25 years focused primarily on managing the training function, creating and delivering training courses for a region encompassing Europe, Middle East, Africa and North America. She is now a very successful independent trainer, sharing her expertise with a growing number of clients across a range of sectors.

Some of our other trainers are also very experienced in the travel sector, including Scott in Hertfordshire (Costa Cruises).

If you’d like a chat with any of our trainers to discuss your customer service training requirements in the travel sector, do please give us a call on 01582 714285 and we’d be delighted to arrange it for you.