Connections Luxury Rio: Eighty senior buyers and suppliers met at the Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro for Connections Luxury’s first event in South America. Rose Dykins reports
Sharing data is key to easing travel disruption
Travel companies throughout the booking process have been urged to share detailed passenger information to minimise the impact on luxury travellers when their journeys are disrupted.
Delegates attending discussions at Connections Luxury in Brazil agreed that better communication and more-sophisticated information sharing could help companies along the booking chain mitigate earlier disruptions.
The discussions were inspired by issues explored in a recent report by technology firm Amadeus, called Shaping the Future of Airline Disruption Management. The issue of information sharing was felt particularly keenly for bookings made via online travel agents, where little personal information is provided upon booking.
One delegate said: “As a hotelier, when all you have is a guest’s flight number and a phone number, it’s really frustrating.”
Strategies discussed for dealing with disruption included using WhatsApp groups to share real‑time information about a traveller’s journey progress, having a constant point of contact for the traveller, and hosting workshops where agents, suppliers and airlines met to create travel disruption protocols.
Delegates also talked about the value of good communication between buyers and suppliers to enhance customers’ experience.
Useful information could include knowing a customer’s favourite drink, how much interaction they’d prefer from staff, and even what music they like, before they travel.
One hotelier said: “We knew one guest was an Andrea Bocelli fan, so we made sure a Bocelli song was playing when she arrived.”
• Amadeus is Connections’ global technology partner. To read its recent report, Shaping the Future of Airline Disruption Management, visit amadeus.com
Luxury sector must cater for family trips
Travel providers must respond to demand for family-friendly facilities and experiences as larger groups of relatives increasingly travel together for top-end holidays, Connections Luxury delegates were told.
Estela Farina, general director of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said: “It has become common for grandparents to organise cruises for the whole family, even for luxury trips. The group size ranges from eight to 80. It’s something that’s been happening more frequently in the past two to three years.”
She added: “Taking the opportunity to get the whole family together to celebrate a special occasion is a privilege.” Satish Jaidev, group head of sales of Emaar Hospitality Group, agreed. He said: “Luxury travel is no longer just about a person or a couple. It’s becoming much more of a family experience.
“Nowadays, we see that when someone is booking a top-end suite, there are kids staying there. So we need to be careful about how we include experiences for children.
“They are influencers in the decision-making of bookings.”
‘Good use of social media in a crisis can enhance your brand’
Good relationships with the press and knowing the strengths of your team are essential for managing your social media response during travel disruption, according to a leading expert in the field.
Speaking at Connections Luxury in Brazil, online presenter and strategist Jay Shetty highlighted how social media can be used to help travellers in new ways.
He cited the recent disruption caused by Hurricane Matthew, during which Facebook Live proved to be a groundbreaking platform for broadcasting live video updates.
“When disaster strikes, you have the opportunity to use adversity to build new connections with your travellers,” he added.
Shetty’s top tips for social media success during travel disruption included:
• Respond to a crisis on social media between one and three hours after the event.
• Stop all your regular social media campaigns, hold off on the marketing tweets and focus on the crisis at hand.
• During disruption, the media is only going to amplify the messages that passengers spread. Build trusted relationships with media partners so that they can support you during tough times.
• Analyse social media users’ personality styles to enable you to connect with them in an appropriate way when they are angry or distressed.
• Know the personality strengths of your team and decide their roles within social media responses. Who will check responses thoroughly before posting? Who will be the strongest at expressing empathy to your travellers via a tweet?
• Be creative, show empathy and see the situation as an opportunity to connect with your customers on a new level.
Launched in 2014, Connections delivers networking events for senior industry executives that aim to inspire, educate and help build long-lasting business relationships. Held in inspiring locations and featuring creative agendas, Connections fuses one-to-one appointments with cultural, energetic and adrenaline-fuelled activities that create shared memories to last a lifetime.
The coming year will see Connections Luxury hold events inIreland and India for the first time, as well as launch ConnectionsWellness. Here’s what we have lined up…
• Connections Luxury in India: Taj Falaknuma Palace, Hyderabad,on March 26-29
• Connections Luxury in Ireland: Powerscourt Hotel, part ofMarriott International’s Autograph Collection, on May 21-24
• Connections Meetings in Ecuador: Quito, on June 18-21
• Connections Meetings in Italy: Toscana Resort Castelfalfi, onNovember 19-22
• New event series for 2017: Connections Wellness inIceland: Blue Lagoon, autumn 2017. Delegates will be hosted at the resort’s newly-opened five-star Moss Hotel.
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