Travel. Remember those days? For many around the world, the once distant idea of a getaway—whether a plane ride away to a cabin in the mountains or an escape to a bed and breakfast a few miles down the road—is again slowly becoming a reality as more people become fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
While some countries are still imposing restrictions, others are offering revised guidance and easing restrictions for in-country or international travel. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week advised, “people who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the U.S.” This was welcome news for families who had been separated from loved ones since the start of the pandemic.
Easter Sunday at my house was filled with tears of joy because it was the first time since February 2020 that my children were able to see and hug their grandparents, both now fully vaccinated. As we sat around the dinner table, we began making plans to travel together in the fall of this year and in 2022. Just the simple task of booking a hotel, reserving a rental car, or scheduling a tour was enough to give us all that sense of normalcy we had craved in the last year.
And, it isn’t just my family that feels this way. The pent-up demand for travel is global. In the 2021 Global Travel Trends Report from American Express, 78% of respondents indicate wanting to travel in 2021 to relieve the stresses from 2020.
Results of the annual Vacation Deprivation study from Expedia® revealed that in 2021 Americans plan to take an extra week of vacation, with 81% of working adults worldwide placing more value on vacation and ready to trade days off for bucket-list experiences.
Travel Pulse magazine recently reported traveler optimism as COVID-19 vaccinations continue to roll out, with 83% of hopeful survey respondents planning to take at least two domestic trips and about half as many (44%) targeting two or more international getaways in 2021.
As exciting as it sounds, I do wonder if travel and hospitality companies are ready for the global pent-up demand headed their way. If my own recent experiences are in any way a prediction of the future, then I worry that contact centers in these industries will be overwhelmed if they are not prepared.
A month ago, I wanted to have a last-minute overnight stay in Boston during school winter break and needed two connecting hotel rooms, but I had to call the hotel directly to confirm my request. I was on hold with the hotel for 45-minutes, then transferred to a voicemail saying that someone would return my call within 48-hours.
In the end, my husband drove down to the hotel to confirm our requests in person. The hotel staff, overwhelmed, had not been prepared to handle the influx of calls and business during the school vacation period.
Fast-forward to last week when I needed to speak with a cruise line customer service representative about a change in a reservation that could not be made online. I was on hold for more than three hours, and when the agent answered the phone, I could hear the exhaustion in his voice.
People are going to travel again, and it will be more amazing and soul-nurturing than ever before! Travel and hospitality companies have a brief runway now to get their contact centers ready to handle the demand. Travelers around the world are going to look to the brands and service companies they love to help them reset, refuel, and restart their lives.
Companies like Talkdesk play a critical role in helping the world move forward in our return to normal. Today, Talkdesk released Talkdesk Vacation Now, a new COVID-19 relief and recovery solution to help travel and hospitality companies ready their contact centers in as little as 24 hours, with a 90-day free account to support anticipated surges in demand as the industry reboots.
Tiago Paiva, chief executive officer, Talkdesk.
At the onset of the pandemic, air travel nearly came to a halt. My house is directly underneath a flight path, and for months, the absence of planes flying overhead was unsettling, almost eerie. For the last two weeks or so, the sounds of airplanes making their final descent into Boston once more lulled me to sleep. I’ll never again take for granted the sounds and the smells of travel.
I can already hear the ocean waves and smell the salt in the wind. I can already taste the fried dough and feel the excitement of my children playing along the boardwalk.
I’m ready. Is your contact center?
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