/ Online Customer Service

Video: Here's Why Online Travel Agents Need Live Web Chat!

Time for a bit of nostalgia.

Remember when you needed to book a holiday, so you'd head down to your local travel agency on the high street? You'd have an consultation with your travel agent, who you find out what would make your perfect holiday. Out of the thousands of options available, she'd only show you a handful which matched your criteria and you'd make a confident choice from those options.

Whether it's good or bad, that method of booking a trip is dwindling, with over 80% of holidaymakers now choosing to buy flights, accommodation and packages online.

The problem is, what's happened to the consultative side of things? Online travel shoppers are now isolated in their journey, so how do online travel agents ensure that they are giving their customers the same level of service as they would do offline?

In this weeks video, we look into how online travel agents can use live web chat to boost their online customer journey.

If there's one thing that can brighten up the gloomiest of winter's days, it's booking a holiday. So it probably isn't so surprising that the busiest time of year for holiday bookings are Saturdays in January. So, for any online travel agents who are looking to boost their online conversions, you better keep watching!

The online travel market is HUGE. A massive 83% of holidayers are now choosing to book their holidays online. But here’s the problem- the travel industry suffers from the worst abandonment rates of any online retail sector, at a whopping 89%.
To reduce this, many OTAs have implemented live web chat on their websites. This is because web chat is proven to reduce abandonment, increase customer satisfaction, and boost conversions but why is this the case?

Let’s take a pun intended trip down memory lane…

Back in the day, if you wanted to go on holiday you’d go down to you travel agent on your high street, book an appointment with a specialist advisor, and you would talk through the needs and wants of your holiday. After having an in depth consultation, you would be left with a handful of carefully selected options, from which you would book your chosen holiday. This would leave you feeling confident, excited and satisfied with your choice.

But things have changed, now with most customers now now choosing to buy online, holidaymakers are bombarded with choice, making it harder to make a decision.
Let's be honest, booking online does have it's positives. It's much more convenient, you get a wider variety of choice and also it means you can research in your own time. However, it has its downsides. Many customers can feel isolated in their buying journey. One of the reasons why web chat has become super popular with online travel agents is because it allows the customer to get in depth support for tricky questions, quickly.

In short, web chat lets you have meaningful conversations with your customers which helps them make the right decisions.

Let’s imagine you’ve decided you're looking to book a summer holiday for your young family, and you've chosen to go to Italy. The problem is you've never been to Italy before. There are thousands and thousands of choices available to you- all across the country at different price points, different regions- where do you begin? Luckily, you have a web chat conversation with an expert. She advises you on family friendly resorts, which offer a good balance of picturesque scenery, local amenities and a vibrant buzz. After whittling through the options with the agent, you eventually find the perfect resort for your family on the beautiful Amalfi

You see what's happened, right?

You’ve just given the customer the same high level, personal consultation that they would’ve got in store, from the comfort of their own sofa.
So what are the benefits of this? Here are 3 stats to help you find out.
People to like to speak with travel professionals before they go ahead and purchase online for three main reasons:

58% said it makes booking easier
51% said it saves them time
45% said they feel more confident in making the booking

And for those of you who only care about the bottom line: there’s good news there, too.

A huge 93% of those who spoke with a travel professional during the research stages of their next holiday went on to book their holiday through the same company. And that means that if you can engage with your customers during this crucial time of the buying journey, there’s 9 out of 10 chance that you will convert that lead into a sale.

So, whose up for going on holiday?

Patsy Nearkhou

Patsy Nearkhou

Patsy Nearkhou is Marketing Manager at Talkative. She loves to create content around customer experience, customer service and emerging tech within these fields.

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