Customer Response Summit (CRS)

I’m looking forward to the Customer Response Summit (CRS) Las Vegas this week. The events hosted by Execs in The Know are always a great event to learn from peers inside the customer experience (CX) industry – or as they put it on the agenda ‘leaders learning from leaders’. What’s even better this time is that Teleperformance is hosting the welcome drinks reception this evening!

I’m looking forward to seeing the first keynote session on Tuesday morning with Mike Gathright, SVP Hilton Reservations and Customer Care. Mike is planning to explore the opportunities Hilton is embracing to create a positive interaction at every customer touchpoint.

Travel and hospitality services like hotels are particularly affected by the various digital transformations we are seeing today in almost every industry. However, with the travel business there is a changing expectation of how existing businesses need to change and there is an entirely new type of travel industry emerging with completely new competitors.

Tripadvisor is a classic example of how customer expectations are changing within the present business model. Mediocre or poor hotels can no longer hope to get tourist bookings. In the past, a hotel in a great location might get bookings even if every customer vows to never return. Today all of those unhappy customers are reviewing the business on review services such as Tripadvisor and telling their friends on social networks. The existing business model needs to accommodate this free access to information on the quality of service.

But even if travel companies strive to do a great job, what happens if new companies just disrupt the entire market? Services such as Airbnb are offering rooms at a significant discount to hotels. Hotels have significant fixed costs, so how can they compete with individuals renting out spare rooms and empty apartments?

The answer in both cases is to make the customer experience front and center of the relationship between the travel brand and the customer. New companies entering and disrupting the travel market are designed around customer requirements from the start – existing companies need to learn from this approach so their own services can be modified to match.

Succeeding in the present market now demands a fantastic customer experience in the travel business, but competing against new market entrants demands not only a great experience, but insight into what customers need. New entrants are designing great new solutions, but the big travel brands have years of experience. They have a choice, refuse to change and just hope they can continue being successful or exploring how their existing services can be reformed to be even more customer-centric.

Let’s see what Mike says in the morning. I’ll be there asking questions, if you are the event then please get in touch and say hello!

Photo by M01229 licensed under Creative Commons.