Setting the Global Customer Service Standard

By Emily Williams-Knight President, Kendall College | April 21, 2013

The time to travel is now

The past few years have been challenging for all industries, with the effects of the recession impacting countries across the globe. The travel industry was certainly not immune to the economic uncertainty, but continued to show strong signs that it remained one of the worlds largest industries.

In 2011, travel and tourism contributed to nine percent of global GDP (equating more than $6 trillion U.S. dollars) and was responsible for 255 million jobs, according to World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). Additionally, the WTTC shares that the industry is projected to grow by an average of 4 percent annually throughout the next ten years (equating to 10 percent of global GDP or $10 trillion US dollars by 2022).(1)

What does all of this mean for United States travel and tourism companies? Now, more than ever, is the time to tap into and become accessible for international travelers. From January to August 2012, the top twenty tourist-generating countries alone brought more than 39.7 million people to the United States, according to the Office of Tourism and Travel Industries (OTTI)(2). Its no secret that international travelers have historically made up a large portion of visitors to various locations around the U.S., but its important as the industry of travel continues to grow to re-evaluate how a brand is accessible to this sector and what changes can be implemented to become more appealing.

If one tourism principle has remained true for reputable travel and tourism companies throughout the years, its that customer service is key to success. Providing exceptional service to domestic travelers is vital to any business strategy and now the need has shifted to creating exceptional global customer service standards. How can companies achieve international recognition for their customer service, and what new amenities, services and attitudes need to be applied?

While the formula for success varies from company to company, industry leaders should encourage implementation of simple changes both within the classroom and on the floor to help set the standard for global customer service and help a company gain international recognition.

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.