The COVID-19 pandemic upended life as we know it, and devastated the travel industry globally.
NB: This is an article from McKinsey & Co
As travel volumes are returning in many parts of the world, customer experience is emerging as the challenge of the recovery
In the 2020 report, “The travel industry turned upside down,” we document the unprecedented impact that COVID-19 had on the travel sector. One year later, we find that the travel sector is bouncing back—yet recovery still has a long way to go.
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Although 2021 performance has improved considerably, the Skift Recovery Index shows it is still 35 percent below pre-pandemic levels globally. Furthermore, different geographies tell vastly different recovery stories as a result of varying travel restrictions, COVID-19 case counts, and the strength of domestic travel markets.
North America shows strong recovery performance, while many Asian countries are showing lower recovery scores as they remain far more cautious in opening their borders (Exhibit 1).
In this report, McKinsey and Skift Research assess the current traveler experience and find mixed signals. While surveys and customer satisfaction rating analyses show many travelers are satisfied with their experiences—some, surprisingly, more so than before COVID-19—a deeper look at the data reveals troubling undercurrents.
Despite high satisfaction ratings, negative sentiment is on the rise.2 Furthermore, operational capacity is strained, staffing challenges are widespread, airline complaints are up, rental cars are hard to come by, and hotel amenities and services remain substantially pared down.
Given the seeming contradiction between performance and satisfaction, the true situation may simply be that leisure travelers are happy to be on the road again after a year of being stuck at home. As travel volumes increase and business travelers return, there is potential for a wave of customer dissatisfaction—at a time when loyalty is up for grabs.
Will travel players manage to reboot customer experience before travelers’ “honeymoon phase” comes to an end? Or will thinning customer patience shock the system?