One of the most common tropes in science fiction – ever since Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in 1818 in fact – is the robot who desperately wants to be human. It seems we humans simply can’t accept that robots are just technological gadgets – we want to imbue them with human qualities and physical characteristics and turn them into mechanical homo sapiens, with all the imperfections that that entails. We love technology and the ways in which it has improved our lives; but we need to be able to relate to it on a personal level.
This is why many people have an innate mistrust of digital technology. We often hear that it’s impersonal, it’s intrusive, it lacks understanding and nuance; basically, it’s not human. And sure, when it’s used incorrectly, or unethically, that can definitely be the case. But when used properly, going digital can – and should – lead to your business becoming MORE, not less, human.
Let’s look at one of the biggest travel trends of the last few years – personalisation. Now if you’re a very small, niche travel agent or advisor with a handful of regular clients, personalisation is pretty easy for you to handle by yourself. But at scale, when your customer base moves into the hundreds or thousands, it’s next to impossible to offer true personalisation without using technology. Personalisation at scale involves using a CRM to capture customer preferences and build segmented mailing lists; it involves using an email automation tool to make sure the right lead gets the right message at the right time; it involves using cookies or tracking codes to tailor your website experience for different visitors. Basically, it involves using a lot of technology to offer a much more human service.
And talking of service, technology can also improve your level of customer service. Again, if you have a sizeable customer base and you’re getting a lot of enquiries every day, it quickly becomes impossible to deal with them all personally and quickly, particularly if you have a small team. Using auto-responders, email automation and chatbots means you can reply to customers and answer their questions immediately without having to do it yourself. Yes, people like a personal response, but more importantly they want a quick response, even if it’s just an acknowledgement, and if you’re taking hours or days to respond they will likely take their business elsewhere.
And it is something of a myth that customers don’t like or trust chatbots – as I mentioned in my recent blog post on Digital Transformation Trends, a 2019 Usabilla survey found that 54% of people find using chatbots quicker and more efficient than dealing with real people, with even larger numbers now expecting to be able to perform essential tasks without having to deal with real people.
And the same applies to building, planning and booking trips for your clients. Planning a personalised itinerary for a customer can be a long, time-consuming business, especially if it involves destinations you aren’t particularly familiar with – you become reliant on Google searches, on local tour operators & DMCs, on guidebooks. Your customer may have to wait a few days for you to get back to them with a quote, and you’ll spend hours or days working on an enquiry that only has a small chance of converting into a booking. A technology solution such as eRoam can dramatically reduce the amount of time you spend quoting from hours/days to just a few minutes, and its smart AI functionality means it can quickly build complex itineraries based on your clients’ preferences, even when you don’t know the destination. This enables you to offer thousands of global destinations, hotels, flights, cruises, transfers and activities in one single, affordable interface, putting the world at your fingertips and delighting your clients with super-quick response times and compelling travel content.
So don’t think of travel tech and digital transformation as some kind of Frankenstein’s monster, an out-of-control robot bent on destroying its creator; think of it instead as a C3PO, a friendly, helpful tool that enhances communication and makes your life a lot easier. Better communication, and quicker, more personal service – what could be more human than that?