Webinar: Travel rebound, evolution or revolution in traveller experience?

Travel Webinar

2020 has changed travel forever. With the entire sector facing challenges like never before, we talk to industry leaders about what this means for the future. Join us for an interactive webinar featuring​​:
  • John Leighton, Head of Customer Service at easyJet
  • Paul Cowan, Director, Global Customer operations at Egencia
  • Meltem Uysaler, Senior Director of Global Customer Operations and Central Direct Sales at IATA
  • Eric de la Bonnardière, CEO at Evaneos
  • Nora Boros, Chief sector Growth Officer at Webhelp

I​n this 50 minute session, industry experts will discuss their response  to COVID-19, highlighting the key lessons and how they are incorporating these into their future strategy to deliver a great experience for passengers and guests.


Rising to travellers’ expectations for the future of travel

What was once a favourite pastime is now looking very different due to this year’s events of COVID-19. Traveller behaviour has rapidly changed, with many opting to not take a trip at all this year. It has changed our ways of thinking towards travel, leading to historic transformation in organisations and society.

In 2019, the number of passengers boarded by the global airline industry reached over 4.5 billion people. At the beginning of 2020, this all changed. Travel unsurprisingly came to a halt due to coronavirus. The total number of flights began to decline by over 60%, according to Flightradar24 racking statistics. This was due to the nature of the virus, forcing governments to ground planes and stop all unnecessary travel.

Government guidelines progressively relaxed in June, allowing travel and leisure activities to resume and get back to some form of ‘normality’ to revive the economy. However, according to IATA, there wasn’t a significant improvement in passenger demand due to the lockdown and quarantine in some markets  with August’s traffic performance the industry’s worst-ever summer season: August international passenger demand plummeted 88.3% compared to August 2019.”

Rising to traveller’s expectations

Getting on a plane and travelling the world is not top of everyone’s bucket list at this moment in time. People are not travelling like they did before the pandemic. The uncertainty of ‘wave two’ is causing many people to become frustrated and emotionally unsettled for the future. And with markets imposing quarantine rules, it has impacted travellers wanting to go abroad altogether.

Travel is recognised as a sense of escapism – now fraught with concerns that were not always top of mind before: cleaning procedures, hygiene, or what places to visit.
Webhelp’s Travel & Mobility Sector Lead, Nora Boros states from our previous article “No matter what kind of trip is being taken, travel clients go through a myriad of emotions before, during, and after their journey – which will undoubtedly affect their consumer behaviour.”
The first wave of COVID-19 amplified these emotions; undoubtedly affecting consumers behaviours and expectations towards travelling and the industry overall.
Nonetheless, it enables organisations to augment and find alternative ways of transforming their servicing and offer travellers new ways of attaining the pleasure of wanderlust.

Health and safety are at the forefront of travelling now more than ever. Passengers are more inquisitive about hygiene policies and what exactly the process looks like before, during, and after flying – the same goes for domestic travel.

It’s not surprising many people have opted to not travel, go on a staycation, or save their plans for a trip in 2021. A Euronews poll surveyed four European countries – Germany, France, Italy, and Spain to identify travel plans which showed a comparison pre-COVID and now. Respondents from all countries had over a 60% decrease in travelling abroad, an average 50% increase in no travelling while domestic travelling stayed consistent between 24%-40%. A Statista survey showed “one third of respondents in the United Kingdom planned to spend their annual leave on holidays in the UK if travel abroad was still difficult due to lockdown restrictions. Over a quarter of respondents expected to spend more time at home.”

Travel influencing new ways of working

Although spending more time at home allows people to have time with their families and make more time for themselves, many people have had to shift to work from home trying to find and maintain a work-life-balance.

These changes have affected people’s behaviours concerning their place of work, inspiring people to seek alternative travel possibilities such as work from home, but anywhere.

“As we continue to adapt to the new ways of working, our work lives become more flexible”, Nora Boros states in our future of travel blog, “leisure travel will become blended with business needs, giving more consideration than ever to the concept of ‘Bleisure’.”

Introducing hybrid models of flexible working allows colleagues to work from home, the office or anywhere in the world. This could open-up longer trips for travellers who want to stay somewhere with office space, or result in an increase of international mobility for organisations to implement.

Webhelp has used the flexible working approach, Webhelp Anywhere with several clients to ensure the safety of colleagues while positively achieving business continuity. We have supported clients with their digital transformation strategy by identifying quick-wins and sustainable long-term objectives to phase through the crisis and transition into the new normal.

As we continue to phase through these uncertain times, it is an opportunity to invest in digital and operational transformation capabilities and become a differentiator in the market, as this will play a key role in helping travellers feel safe in their future travels.


Interested to learn more about these changes and travellers’ expectations for the future?

Sign up to our webinar where we will discuss how businesses can rethink their customer experience strategy and operational/digital transformation.

Sign-up for our webinar

OneShot Influence

Influence- New edition of the OneShot

Our 5th edition of OneShot is here! We hope you will enjoy reading about this wide theme, so deeply rooted in our everyday life.

So what have you learned from the crisis? Many attests to the irony of social distancing strengthening bonds and communications between colleagues. At the heart of this new dynamic, digital relationships have Intensified, and digital technology has played a very significant role.

The health and economic crisis is forcing us to focus on the immediate future. Nonetheless brands shouldn’t lose sight of other changes in society. Old power – no business will survive if it’s purely based on old power values: formal and centralised governance, a secretive mindset, the elitism of experts. People no longer trust authority, the bedrock of old powers. They want to act, to participate and to learn. New Power – requires brands to focus more on flat hierarchies and complete transparency.

Did you know that just behind WhatsApp, TikTok is the second-most downloaded non-gaming app in the world? And when compared to Instagram, the engagement rate is much higher? With millions of subscribers and a wide fan base, you should definitely check it out if your target audience is on TikTok.

Read all about these exciting and thought-provoking topics and more, in our latest edition of OneShot.

Read our OneShot

Your Guide to build an efficient patient-oriented strategy at a
global scale

In a context fueled by digital disruption and global acceleration, healthcare companies must design a new framework to better provide a seamless, constistent care accross all moment and all frontiers Through this white paper, Webhelp Medica reveals its best practices and learnings based on more than 20 years of expertise. Mixing feedbacks, testimonials and regulatory analyses, here are the keys to a winning strategy.

Read the Whitepaper Here

Recommerce

Recommerce on the surge: Why second-hand stores are booming

Why is recommerce on the rise? and why are marketplaces such as VINTED, thredUP or Poshmark thriving in this business model? Is it just trendy, cost effective, sustainable or a mix of all these that explains the current surge? Tomorrow’s personalization and customer journeys are expected to be even smarter, more immersive, more trust-enabling than they are today. The question is: Are brands and consumers ready? Here is an analysis from Olivier Carrot, Global Business Unit Direct, Retail & E-commerce.

Olivier Carrot - Recommerce

So which are some of the factors that have contributed to this increase?

  • Rise in the use of mobile devices. The accessibility of mobile devices globally has essentially contributed to the growth of e-commerce thanks to the increased reach which has consequently increased the sales. According to Aaron Orendorff – Forbes Top 10 B2B Content Marketer, e-commerce has helped businesses launch beyond borders reaching out to millions of new potential customers. By 2023, an increase of 276.9% in the total global sales in retail is projected with APAC taking the lead (source: shopify.com).
    The easy accessibility of mobile phones and internet has definitely elevated the demand of recommerce as a service. This surge has seen many start- ups joining the bandwagon to not only meet the growing demand but also to take advantage of the efficiency and scalability that marketplaces provide.
    Through the creation of an application that links second-hand products to customers, VINTED has grown from being owned by its two co-founders Milda and Justas to an organization that employs more than 450 people and unites a community of 25 million people.
  • Personalized customer experiences. In reference to platforms like VINTED, personalized services that match customers preferences are highly sought after. Customers want to feel valued and there is no better way than to offer a personalized experience. Even though many consumers are in search of products being offered at discounted or affordable prices, they will not compromise on the experience. Brands are thus competing not only on price but also on offering the most memorable experience to their customers.
  • Old is new again. Founded in 2009 as a swapping company for men’s shirts’ thredUP is a huge consumer marketplace that flaunts over 35,000 brands. In one of his keynotes, CEO and co-founder James Reinhart forecasts sales of upto $51 billion from the second-hand apparel market by 2023 (source yahoo.com)
    In reality, people buy twice as many clothes and wear them half as long. If one can buy a branded item for half the price of the new, why not? There is a growing trend to transform consumption through reuse. And so as to keep up with the changing environment in the retail industry, integrating a resale option in traditional retail outlets is seen to boost the overall sales. Customers are sparked to spend 21% more and visit 70% more frequently. James attributes the massive increase in the visiting percentage to the fact that second hand collection is restocked every two weeks whereas in the traditional format, new collection arrives between four to six times a year (source: www.thredup.com)
  • Cost friendly. Pocket friendly purchases is a big driver in the recommerce boom. Customers are increasingly seeing the value in buying recycled brand-name products for huge discounts. “Recommerce has seen a tremendous upsurge” says Steven Bethell, founder of Bank & Vogue – a firm that specializes in the logistics of selling used goods and operates a sister company called Beyond Retro. Prior to making a purchase, many shoppers aquent themselves with the resale possibilities of items they wish to buy with the plan to resell them in the near future. The retail industry is seeing a continued shift with the majority of consumers shopping smarter.
  • Sustainability. The new affluent generations like the Gen Z are more environmental and social conscious and as such, they expect brands to be more ethical and sustainable in their production processes. Fashion brands that have this audience as their customer base, are obliged to revamp their business models to be able to not only attract but most definitely also retain this segment.
    VINTED is one such brand. By investing on its brand ethos which is providing a platform for purchasing and selling of second-hand clothes. These clothes reduce the environmental impact of Co2 levels that are usually released in the production of new clothes (think water, chemicals, fertilizers and pesticides). In addition, it prolongs the shelf life of clothes that would otherwise head to the dumping sites in one or two years. It’s estimated that 600 kilograms of used clothes would lead to a reduction of 2250 kilograms of Co2 emissions, 3.6 billion liters of water saved, and 144 trees planted. (www.smartgreenpost.com).

At Webhelp, our clients are at the heart and our core objective is to ensure that their customers experience world class service in every touchpoint. The creation and upholding of a sustainable environment also go hand in hand with what our company stands for.

In our endeavor to always provide seamless interactions, we go the extra mile to guarantee that customers’ needs are met. We focus on making the purchase process in the marketplaces as simple and fulfilling as possible 

Our flawless and memorable customer journey from order management to returns and replacements is swiftly executed with our dedicated service specialist who are located globally in the different hubs. 

And thanks to the booming second-hand industry, content management and moderation is also on high demand. Ever thought of outsourcing your content moderation? Our highly experienced offshore content moderators ensure that our clients’ brands are duly protected across their target audience. We support our clients’ to not only maintain their brand integrity, but also to shield their customers from inappropriate, aggressive or illegal content.  

Are you looking for an experienced partner who will help you take your marketplace to the next level? Get in touch to receive your tailormade solution: Olivier Carrot.


Whitepaper: Reimagining service for the new world

Whitepaper 14th July 2020

A framework for tomorrow’s successful customer-focused operating models

As the urgency for change and transformation intensifies in the post COVID landscape, some pivotal questions will be raised: How different will service look and feel in the future? How will businesses and their operations need to adapt? And how can employers engage and support their colleagues to deliver on new customer promises?”

This new Whitepaper, reimagining service for the new world aims to address these crucial questions and discover more about how to leverage customer service models in this new world.

This is a joint publication with Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp group, is underpinned by our unique industry perspective and new research to reveal the operating models of the future.

Click here for an instant download: Reimagining service for the new world

And join our mailing list below for invitations to forthcoming events and webinars


Being a people-first organisation during a pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has profoundly impacted the way we all live and work, forcing organisations to rapidly adjust to a new reality. As an organisation that prides itself on putting people at the heart, our number one priority will always be to keep our people safe. This approach, coupled with our rapid mobilisation of home working models for our clients, has uncovered our agility and adaptability, enabling us to continue growing and achieving our goals amongst this year’s challenges, which we are incredibly proud of.

Protecting our people

Webhelp is committed to making business more human, and our people are central to achieving this.
In February, we entered the COVID period with an incredible team of nearly 56,000 Webhelpers, always willing to make a difference in the lives of our client’s customers as well as in their local communities. We rapidly transitioned over 70% of our teams to work remotely, with all the relevant equipment and protocols to ensure safe and regulated work. With the incredible work from our teams, in a short amount of time we have established new digital resources for team leaders to support home working operations through new communication models to support our new and existing Webhelpers in changing practices and behaviours in new working environments.
From April – June, we delivered more than 650,000 masks to our colleagues. Where sites are being progressively and cautiously reopened, we continue supporting our colleague’s health through the delivery of masks and thousands of litres of hand sanitizer and extensive extra cleaning routines.

Supporting our clients

We have continued to work as trusted partners for our clients, adjusting their working practices and service models to meet the new requirements. As we have the experience of homeworking with our experienced agents at INVIRES, we were ready and able to rapidly adopt and continue a quality level of service for our clients, and support new clients where the infrastructure and local preparation wasn’t available.
Introducing new technology solutions has been essential to delivering successful home working solutions, especially for clients in highly regulated environments. We have built and designed a fully PCI compliant payment service which allows full card and payment masking within home working spaces, matching the protocols we have for working on site. Through introducing IVR opportunities with retail clients, we have also been able to further support their compliance and the safeguarding of data.
Hybrid models of flexible working allow colleagues to rotate shifts, working from either home or our office sites, to manage sensitive data access where necessary.

Delivering growth

Amongst all the chaos, our resilience has been preserved. We continued to deliver exemplary service to our clients and their customers and acquire new clients along the way.
We have now welcomed a further 6,000 people into the Webhelp family, some of whom will have never been to one of our offices, using remote recruitment, onboarding, and training. In our Asia-Pacific region we have increased our total headcount by 45% since January 1st, 2020, and continue to expand our operations in different locations within this region.
We are not limited to a single location site as we consider our service to be geography agnostic. Moving rapidly and flexibly, we have been able to establish fully virtual contact centres which are delivering service that is consistently outperforming against peers on first contact resolution, touchpoint net promoter score and employee engagement.
The future will result in different ways of working as focus moves to introducing hybrid models, drawing the best of both worlds through local hubs acting as centres of excellence to provide knowledge sharing, coaching and training to support home workers.
This crisis has forced organisations to adapt and rethink the way they deliver services and our clients, old and new, continue to rely on us to operate safely, quickly, and resiliently.


Discover Webhelp's Work Abroad Program

International mobility means opportunities even in the most challenging of times

As a people-first company, not only do we strive to enjoy every day but also listen to our colleagues as to how they wish to live their careers. Relocating to a new country to start an international career is always a great challenge, especially during a global crisis.
At Webhelp, driving innovation is part of our DNA. That is why we have set out to make international mobility still a possible, safe and enjoyable experience! We have developed our Work Abroad program with you in mind – our colleagues who want to explore new cultures and career opportunities as well as future Webhelpers who dream of a fresh start.
The Work Abroad program is part of our new Website. So, let’s dive in the online features and functionalities that will bring you closer to your dream lifestyle.

Find out what country you match with

Meet our interactive Job Matcher! The fun quiz is the first thing you will see when you land on our Work Abroad page. Your international journey starts by answering 3 simple questions. We use a quick algorithm that will match you with the country most suited to your personal preferences and professional goals. You might have more than one soulmate country! So, have fun and redo the quiz as many times as you wish.

Find out what it is like to work in your country of choice

Now you have an idea of where you would like to live your next 12 to 24 months or maybe your entire life. So, let’s take a quick journey into that dream destination!
As game-changers, we conducted a survey with people who work with us as well as former colleagues and even employees from other companies. Why? To get a real feeling of what it is like to work in the country you would like to call home.
The destination section refers mainly to the overall employee sentiment within a certain region. However, this is where you will see open positions available at Webhelp in your country of choice. Likewise, from this section you can select the city (site) where we operate.
We also gathered data from various reliable sources, and we recommend a monthly budget based on your salary at Webhelp in relation to the cost of living in your country of choice. This way, you can better plan for fun activities and common necessities.

Dare the adventure in your favourite city!

Getting the low-down on a country is great. But you will mostly live in a city while working abroad. To provide you with accurate and relevant information, we worked closely with expats living in the cities where we operate.
Each piece of content was written, edited and revised by multiple members of our local creative and HR teams, with the help and input of our expat Advisors.
This is where we also advertise our international open positions for our sites. So, when an available job feels like a match, apply and we will get in touch with you within a few days, if not hours.

Say hi to your new lifestyle

We strive to offer you a realistic glimpse of what to expect while working abroad at Webhelp. To create this piece of content, we interviewed dozens of our expat colleagues. So, you will get a feeling of the country through their eyes and experiences.
Our film crew also went the extra mile. Literally! They flew to our sites to capture the city vibe and our office culture. Follow our Webhelpers in their quest to show you authentic experiences and some impressive vistas of their second home! For example, check out how Denisz from Ukraine works and lives in Barcelona.

When in doubt, contact our friendly ambassadors

But what if you are still undecided about your chosen destination? Our colleagues from around the world will be happy to answer all your questions related to cost of living, relocation assistance, open positions and many more.
We have also taken a unique approach with our FAQ section. Since we put our people at the heart, we have divided our frequently asked questions in 3 parts: Your Life, Your Career and Your Adventure. Reading through the answers will feel personal, human-orientated and transparent.

Stay tuned for Meet Webhelpers

We believe in an engaging work culture. And our Webhelpers are the best ambassadors to reinforce our values. Coming soon is our new blog section featuring ‘the person behind the job’. You will find out what it is like to start and advance your career with us, how to stay resilient when you fail or how to succeed when you struggle. All these from a personal point of view of our Webhelpers!

For the past 20 years, we have thrived in challenging circumstances and strived to help our people achieve their goals. Despite the current pandemic, we know that international mobility is crucial to business growth and employee satisfaction. We encourage you to explore our opportunities abroad and dream further than ever before!


The future of travel in the post COVID world

The arrival of COVID-19 may have changed the travel industry forever. We’ve asked sector expert, and Webhelp Global Director, Nora Boros, to reflect on how far we have come and, most importantly, what the future holds for this most human of industries?

What was the travel industry landscape prior to COVID-19, were there any ongoing issues, or significant changes on the horizon?

Although it feels like an age away right now, looking back to 2019 the outlook for the travel industry was fairly optimistic and, on the whole, the industry was in a place of maturity in customer experience - especially when compared with other sectors which might be perceived as being weaker in this area such as financial services.

In fact, the industry had developed some depth in the ability to emotionally and personally connect with its audience, in order to deliver unique leisure experiences.  Brands were using new consumer behaviours to create buy in, especially in creating enriched customer journeys, something that I explored in a previous blog.

As travel is such a broad and diverse industry, some disruption was evident and there were emerging players and newcomers to the market, joining travel from competing sectors.

There was the growth of personalised, sustainable and eco-tourism, and its impact on the traditional value, luxury and price based travel campaigns - plus the continued arrival of start-ups, bringing new technology, fresh services and additional booking avenues to the industry.

Unfortunately, some areas of the travel industry were already financially fragile. For example, where low operating margins coincide with high cost in distribution or intermediation. This is especially apparent in models where there are go-betweens such as resellers, who are bridging the gap for providers and the consumers themselves, and draining income flows.

Alongside this, there was the growing financial challenge faced by the traditional retail brick and mortar travel providers from new players in digital technology.

And, there was huge impact from the way that technology can very quickly, change a regional provider to a global one – going digital provides the ability to easily disseminate an offer across multiple geographies and languages.

Interestingly, at Webhelp we are in the perfect position to provide support in this area, creating a unified customer experience across multiple markets.

What was the initial response to COVID-19 from the industry, and what challenges did Webhelp face as a company?

In the past decade, the travel industry has weathered many storms, including the ash cloud crisis in 2010 and the impact of the tragic events of 9/11. So when COVID hit, there was the awareness that it was going to hurt – but it was approached with a certain amount of resilience.

We saw a significant drop in sales volumes across our existing client operations, which we approached with a high degree of flexibility. As a people first company, we value our people and moved to protect them with swift workforce management measures like redeployment and adapted hours while working to reduce negative financial impact on our clients.

The travel industry has a substantial learning curve when producing the best customer advisors, particularly in the airline, tour-operating and hospitality segment. There must be a deep understanding of the sector, tools and processes – which can only be provided by time-served and highly trained advisors.

We focussed on retaining this wealth of experience; we knew that once the immediate challenge passed, our clients would need a highly skilled service.

And, it’s important to note, that as sales volumes fell, customer service needs in areas like refunds, information and rescheduling rose dramatically.  We protected the industry and our clients by cross-skilling advisors, redeploying them and introducing homeworking, where possible, to protect our people and ensure continuation of service.

We have also deployed automation where possible to accelerate digital transformation at a lower cost.

We entered a crisis discussion with one of our clients, who were understandably deeply concerned for their business and were considering calling off their contract. In response we provided a clear and robust financial roadmap through the crisis, working with local legislation to retain our people, safeguard their salaries and reduce the financial drain on our client and the ability to re-invest the savings to the post-crisis situation.

And now, as the industry is gradually returning to business under the next normal, our client is in an ideal position to come back strongly – and appreciates the flexibility, cost reduction and value Webhelp brought to the long term relationship.

Can we touch on the impact of COVID from an air travel perspective?

Yes, obviously the global travel industry has a symbiotic relationship with the airline industry, because travel by its very nature is closely linked to transportation.

The past three months have created a highly unusual situation, with limited (or no) cross border transportation and grounding several airlines.  This is without a doubt one of the single largest crisis’ to hit ANY industry, and we will see ripples and consequences for the next decade, if not longer.

There will be lasting consumer trends resulting from this, including a renewed interest in sustainable tourism and more purposeful, meaningful travel.

The recovery period for airlines may create a decrease in availability resulting in a potential price increase, both for the leisure market and particularly for business travellers. I think that for the corporate market, recovery will be much longer, and many companies will need to adapt their propositions to suit this new reality.

As a consequence we should see short term growth in domestic markets, as people have less in their pockets and less opportunity for international travel. There will be a return to travel as a simpler and more meaningful activity, with family relationships and new experiences assuming greater importance as some global destinations are limited.

The way ahead for the industry and your thoughts on the future of Travel under COVID-19?

Transformation and restructuring will be visible across the whole industry, which is already evident in the actions of Ryanair and British Airways and hotel chains like Marriott and Hilton. Travel companies will need focused customer experience during this difficult time and Webhelp can really support operational and digital transformation in this area.

Change is certainly ahead for the hospitality industry, and some independent hotels could struggle to comply with the new social distancing regulations, reduced guests and increased costs required to stay open while maintaining the bottom line.

Travel brands, like Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia, with more diversified portfolios or private rentals where new regulations and safety measures can be introduced quickly, may be in a position to benefit.

As we live more flexible work lives, leisure travel will become blended with business needs, creating the new travel concept of ‘Bleisure’, something that we will be exploring in future blogs.

The real trends will become more apparent in the first quarter of next year, as the financial and social effects of COVID become clearer.

And finally, I think that the human experience of travel, the need for personal contact and connection will be increasingly valued and promoted.

Travel is the most universal way to unlock boundaries and understand how diverse and beautiful the world is, and I am confident that the industry will recover and remerge. It may be changed but will remain just as meaningful.

In future blogs we will explore the travel horizon in further detail, re-imagining the customer experience and looking at how this can unlock meaningful opportunities for the travel industry. Feel free to contact Nora Boros via LinkedIn and to explore more of our services.