When considering customer service and customer experience, one must question whether the needs and expectations of each customer have been met by the company providing the service. It should also be noted that the perception of whether the needs and expectations of each customer have been met is also vitally important. The two elements – actual and perceived delivery of service – make up the essence of customer satisfaction. 

What Is Needed for an Excellent Customer Experience?

Excellent customer service managers in the travel and tourism industry know that careful, strategic planning is necessary to deliver a service that customers will come back to. These repeat customers also fulfil a dual function as brand ambassadors and can even be used directly in a company’s marketing output 

When strategic planning fails, and a company cannot deliver its service, should other similar service providers (competitors) fill the void? This question, you may have guessed, relates directly to Ryanair’s cancellation of flights and the effect it has on the wider travel and tourism industry. One proposed idea is for service providers in an airport to work together to guarantee customer satisfaction, thereby maintaining a certain level of quality that benefits each participating company. In this example, it could mean finding empty seats on other carriers for flights to the same destination, with Ryanair paying a set price for each customer covered; this is the strategic, holistic approach to travel management.  

What Are the Challenges Opposing the Strategic, Holistic Model?  

On a logistical scale, organising such transfers could prove extremely difficult at such short notice. Without a uniform system in place that benefits all participants, last minute flight transfer opportunities could be missed. An airline may argue that their commitment to planning a flawless service would directly benefit their competitors, their very point of brand differentiation.  

How Does the Current Approach Affect the Airport and Its Service Providers? 

One of the issues facing customer service managers in the travel industry is the pervasive effects of bad service. If a customer arrives at an airport to find a lacklustre food service or their flight cancelled, each of the service providers involved in making their journey comfortable, efficient and enjoyable can suffer. Even the airport’s reputation at large can be severely damaged due to a break in the customer service chain, as is possibly the case with Luton Airport’s recent last-place Which? survey rating. 

What Are the Benefits of Strategic, Holistic Airport Management? 

By creating a positive experience for customers, airports can attract a higher calibre of business participants, perhaps even resulting in the creation of a new national travel hub. Doncaster Sheffield Airport, for example, may have already implemented a strategic, holistic approach of some kind to ensure excellent customer service is delivered throughout the airport. The airport ranked top in the recent Which? Survey for small airports in the UK, with only the “range of shops and food outlets” category gaining less than four stars. The airport could look to address their area of weakness by welcoming new restaurants and shops that will improve the customer experience. If they once again perform well in next year’s Which? survey, the airport could use the customer satisfaction rating as leverage for a broader, more extensive range of flights, or even introduce stricter rules for participating businesses that guarantee service quality.  

Interested in becoming a customer service champion in the travel and tourism industry? Our HND programme in Travel and Tourism Management gives you the preparation you need to jump straight into the sector. Want to step up your knowledge beyond HND level? Our top-up honours degree in Business and Management (Tourism Management) can boost your professional potential further. Contact a UKCBC course advisor today for more information.   

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