Having flown 10 million miles and clocked over 3,000 room nights, I have gained some insights. Over the last 30 years, the airline and hospitality industries have seen highs and lows, but something worrying that I observed was a continued struggle to maintain resilience during the upsides.
The problems during the pandemic were understandable. However, they could have better managed this by enforcing the core principles of resilience than a knee-jerk reaction. I remain concerned about their evolving character even in this buoyant phase. In pursuit of revenues and possibly making up for losses, they tend to let loose fundamental principles and take away the customer value proposition.
This disregard for key CX principles, including loyalty is unfortunate and so is the criteria that only focusses on revenues no matter at what cost. Their fixation with revenues precedes all other aspects, even service quality too.
Coming upon bitter experiences
In these months, my hospitality and travel experience, besides the discomforts, has been of great learning too. Between the ticket and the hotel room, the cost has doubled against the pre-pandemic stage. However, the services have been going through a freefall. Customer experience across all aspects of service offerings has fallen across all classes, not just budget.
Why this apathy and utter disregard? It is common wisdom that organisations and people are judged on the fundamentals of their value system. Unfortunately, both these industries fail to meet their very basic value service proposition.
The customer is at the crossroads, not the industry, as despite paying such an exorbitant price, the experience is not even worth a quarter. For instance, from booking to various changes that I did, I had to pay almost 100 per cent more than the pre-pandemic levels. My customer journey has been a roller-coaster, right from the flight to the hotel.
It has been horrendous between the airport’s long queues and waiting for hours in hotel lobbies for check-in. An average bell tone in hotels for operators and other services has gone to 15 rings. Imagine the plight of a customer waiting for bare essentials. Why come to this mess?
Is there any moral or ethical justification for such a high price? And if so, then assure the requisite quality and consistency. Besides routine apologies that ‘We are busy’, nothing seems to be changing...
How have we reached this situation? Even though loyalty has been in disarray and put on the back burner, the fundamental relationship between customer and service provider is put to rest. This apathy is a matter of grave concern.
I can see the state of the industry and see a problem in airlines and hotel industries’ focus on growth and business continuity than customer experience. What is baffling is their casual approach to quality. I understand the market dynamics and challenges they face between manpower shortages, upskilling, and staying on top of inflation.
However, none of these justify the wavering on customer attention and basics. There is a need to put adequate resources and focus on ensuring consistency and superior service. Sensitivity and requisite attention in dealing with grievances is needed than just polite answers that ‘Sorry, We are busy’.