NB: This is an article by Maksim Izmaylov of Roomstorm, via Tnooz
Have you ever heard of the term “distressed passengers?”
“Distressed passengers” is the industry name for airline customers who find themselves stranded in an airport overnight, waiting in customer service queues, or taking uncomfortable rides to distant hotels.
What about “walked guest?”
That’s the poor guy who shows up the night of a conference, eager to get a place to sleep but forced to relocate to another hotel.
This is no niche problem — there are 65 million distressed passengers in the US per year, and for one of the biggest hotel brands out there, with 600 properties and approximately 12,000 walks last year, estimated impact of bad customer experience was $60 million.
Yes, these painful travel issues have plagued the travel industry for decades, but their impact may be reaching a critical peak. Today, the voices of angry customers have become amplified by social media, and the voice of an unsatisfied customer is louder than ever.
At the same time, companies must strive harder to please — because with big marketing costs, the real revenue comes in with repeat purchases.
The stars are aligning to motivate some travel suppliers to do more to ensure positive customer experiences, and innovative startups are looking to provide them with solutions.
The airline industry term for unexpected delays and cancellations is IROPS (“irregular operations”). Whether it’s cancellations or flight-delays, these issues cost US passengers billions a year.
In the event of an IROP, policies vary. If it’s the airline’s fault, such as a broken plane, it is obligated to provide accommodation. If it’s an “act of God” a.k.a. the weather, airline customers fend for themselves.
As you can imagine, having your airplane delayed overnight isn’t a particularly pleasant experience. Airlines rarely provide rooms, or they provide uncomfortable rooms, or rooms so far away they are too inconvenient to get to. Oftentimes, grumpy passengers just choose to sleep on the airport floor.
In the hotel industry, a similar concept is the “walked” guest.
Hotels frequently book above capacity, which means that some guests get “walked”. Especially unfortunate — these passengers are usually the exhausted ones that arrive late.