Covid19 - Exhibiting empathy in travel e-commerce

12th August, 2020

Travelers are seeking additional information and it is up to travel companies to boost their confidence, writes Ai’s Ritesh Gupta


Travel recovery depends on a lot of how safe one feels about the next trip, and this is in addition to a number of other aspects that one generally considers before finalizing an itinerary. Airlines and other travel e-commerce players are adjusting to the realities of how to serve consumers across all the phases of a trip.

E-commerce specialists must work on the blend of content, tools, UI, UX etc. to ensure relevant details are provided just when needed. These include areas like – How safe is a particular location? How can one prepare for a trip and what is mandatory? Can I get a refund in case I decide not to go ahead with the booking? What does Force Majeure on my travel policy cover me for?

Airlines are doing their bit to encourage travel. For instance, Emirates is offering free global cover for COVID-19 medical expenses and quarantine costs should they incur these costs during their travel.

The entire booking flow needs to be refined. Some pertinent points are:

  • Tools for updated, real-time, easy-to-comprehend information: Imagine a traveler searching for a fare or any travel product, certain tabs or sections emerge for one to explore additional details to assure them and instill confidence for them to go ahead. For instance, if one is looking for going from A to B and the itinerary features multi-modal transportation, then what sort of safety measures are in place at a particular airport and station, how much time would it take for one to board the aircraft, train etc. Getting closer to the real experience is one way to soothe concerns and for this travel e-commerce needs to step up and creatively depict the same. 
  • Photos and videos: The use of videos or latest photographs can help. If those customers who have undertaking trips in the last month or so and are willing to feature in interviews/ testimonies, they can feature in videos post their trips (talking about the check-in experience or the journey) to encourage others.
  • Payment: Customers are peeved at not being able to receive refund for flight cancellations. And one can be wary of booking the next trip if they don’t foresee any solution. How about an airline not only clarifying their stance regarding the same, and even highlighting the option of flexible or installment payments? The issue of refund for installment payments was discussed during one of Ai’s webinars. According to the US-based fintech company Uplift, whether an airline processes a full or a partial refund, it processes debits directly against that consumer’s loan.   
  • Technology: Travel merchants can rely on tools tailored for mobile to share their safety and cleaning procedures. United Airlines recently launched a new chat function – the United Automated Assistant – to give customers a contactless option to receive immediate access to information about cleaning and safety procedures put in place due to.  

Related video - Impact on travel e-commerce’s digital product strategy

Airline Travel Payment Summit - ATPS Virtual Conference
20 - 21 Oct 2020

The ATPS Virtual, co-hosted with UATP, is dedicated to the payments and fraudprevention strategies needed for airlines and travel-related businesses to survive.