Rebuilding Trust in the Aftermath: Addressing Customer Experience and Data Breaches

Co-authored by Geoff Hudson-Searle and Scott Siegel

While the global travel industry keeps striving to cope with the disruption, whether it’s the upsurge in armed conflict, the redrawing of the global energy-resources map, rapid progress in artificial intelligence (ai), or the the increase in cyber security breaches, the world is changing.

Artificial intelligence is becoming less of a possibility and more of a reality for the world, yet the majority of travelers don’t fully trust the technology when it comes to planning and booking travel.

A recent study completed by the National Research Group found that while 49 percent of those who have already utilized AI to help plan their trip found the tool very helpful (think Booking.com’s online chatbot service, which has been in service for a decade), the majority of travelers express concerns about the service.

Travel experiences like flying or going on cruises are still not in recovery. Transportation companies within the tourism industry have seen how their levels of risk escalated since the outbreak of the pandemic. Particularly, the aviation sector faces an ongoing transformation caused by the current disruption that keeps shaping the industry. Airlines have brought higher fares and fewer routes for travellers as well as new safety measures.

To preserve a good reputation, airlines and cruise lines need to reinforce their marketing strategies. This may seem challenging, as both sectors face struggles related with their liquidity levels. However, it is crucial that companies prioritize engaging with customers through innovative and digital content and reinvention.

Cruise lines that prioritize safety and security can successfully build trust with their passengers, who in turn feel confident in their choice of vacation. By implementing comprehensive safety measures, ensuring crew expertise, enhancing onboard security, addressing health and sanitation concerns, and communicating these measures effectively, cruise lines demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of their passenger trust.. When passengers feel safe and secure, they can fully enjoy the memorable experiences that travel has to offer.

Today, I have the distinct pleasure of introducing a fellow author and technologist, Scott Siegel, who is an executive visionary technology leader. A trailblazer in advancing neuroscience analytics, he leverages this expertise to unveil deep consumer insights, drive data-driven decision-making, and enhance customer experiences. His leadership extends to championing the adoption of data mesh architecture, enabling scalable and decentralized data ecosystems for improved democratization and agility.

In the travel industry, artificial intelligence (AI) is a key technology used for shaping customer acquisition, retention strategies and establishing / rebuilding trust after a negative customer experience or data breaches. The intricate bond between consumers and service providers within the travel sector, characterized by reliability, transparency, and the assurance of meeting customer expectations, has faced a significant decline in recent years. As the industry grapples with declining trust due to various challenges, AI serves as a multifaceted solution, playing a crucial role in both recovery and sustaining growth by forging lasting connections with customers.

A few notable examples of data breaches in 2023 include:

• Booking.com was the victim of a phishing attack. Cybercriminals gained unauthorized access to customers’ credit card information and started sending deceptive emails to travelers and hotels, posing as Booking.com staff or partners. (TravelDailyNews)

• In addition, American and Southwest Airlines used a third-party vendor to process pilot job applications. The third-party vendor suffered a data breach and at least 8,700 record of sensitive applicant data were exposed. (CPO Magazine)

In the aftermath of a negative customer experience or a data breach, transparent communication is key. Travel organizations must promptly acknowledge the issue, take responsibility, and communicate openly with affected customers. AI can assist in crafting personalized communication strategies, ensuring that affected individuals receive relevant information about the incident, steps taken to address it, and preventive measures implemented to avoid future occurrences.

AI-driven tools can play a crucial role in pro-active customer engagement during a crisis. Sentiment analysis algorithms can gauge customer reactions on social media and other platforms, allowing companies to identify and address concerns in real-time. Implementing AI-powered chatbots for customer support can help manage the influx of inquiries efficiently, providing consistent and accurate information to concerned customers.

In the wake of a data breach, consumers often prioritize enhanced security measures. AI can be leveraged to reinforce cybersecurity protocols, identify vulnerabilities, and implement robust encryption techniques to safeguard customer data. Communicating the implementation of these advanced security measures using AI-driven platforms can rebuild confidence by demonstrating a commitment to protecting customer information.

AI’s ability to analyze vast datasets allows travel companies to understand the specific preferences and concerns of affected customers. By tailoring recovery strategies to individual needs, companies can demonstrate a sincere commitment to customer satisfaction. AI-driven recommendation engines can suggest compensatory offers or personalized discounts based on a customer’s previous interactions and preferences, helping to regain trust through a positive and customized approach.

AI’s machine learning capabilities enable continuous improvement by learning from past incidents. Analyzing the root causes of customer dissatisfaction or data breaches allows companies to implement corrective measures and prevent similar issues in the future. Regularly updating customers on the progress made in terms of improvements and showcasing a commitment to learning from mistakes can contribute to rebuilding trust over time.

In the face of continually complex challenges and the alarming instances of data breaches, the travel industry must invest in AI to mitigate these ongoing threats. Trust is declining every day, and it is imperative for travel organizations to heed the call to action. Organizations that want to remain relevant must embrace AI as an ally in transparent communication, proactive customer engagement, and fortifying security measures.

Now, more than ever, is the time to acknowledge and be proactive in addressing System vulnerabilities, learn from past incidents, and showcase an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction. By implementing AI-driven strategies into the fabric of operations, the organization will rebuild trust and create lasting connections with customers. The road to recovery is challenging, but with AI as your guide, it becomes a transformative journey towards sustained growth, resilience, and a brighter future for the travel industry.

This article is the expressed opinions and collaboration between two senior-level industry board professionals on their views and perceptions on the subject matter:

Scott Siegel is a results-oriented and visionary technology leader. He specializes in strategic partnerships with C-Level executives and the integration of emerging technologies to optimize operations, enhance productivity, and drive cost efficiencies through the application of AI. Scott’s focus centers on cultivating a culture of continuous improvement and collaboration, aligning innovative strategies with business goals to fuel organizational growth. With a proven track record, he has directed cross-functional teams in the development and implementation of cutting-edge AI algorithms and models, revolutionizing data analysis, pattern recognition, and predictive capabilities for shopping events using generative AI.

A trailblazer in advancing neuroscience analytics, he leverages this expertise to unveil deep consumer insights, drive data-driven decision-making, and enhance customer experiences. His leadership extends to championing the adoption of data mesh architecture, enabling scalable and decentralized data ecosystems for improved democratization and agility.

He is extremely adept at developing and executing innovation strategies, leading implementations for Data Governance, Analytics, and Regulatory Privacy Compliance across diverse industries. As an advocate for AI-driven solutions, he evaluates and incorporates emerging technologies such as computer vision into business processes, products, and services.

With a commitment to excellence, he mentors and develops high-performing teams, ensuring they grow within a culture of innovation. Collaborating with executive leadership, Scott aligns analytics initiatives with overall business strategy, facilitating data-driven decision-making throughout the organization. His commitment to sharing insights is reflected in many published articles, showcasing a dedication to thought leadership in the technology and analytics space.

Linkedin
https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottsiegel1/

Geoff Hudson-Searle is a senior independent digital non-executive director across regulation, technology, and internet security, C-Suite executive on private and listed companies, and serial business advisor for growth-phase tech companies.

With more than 30 years of experience in international business and management he is the author of seven books: Freedom After the Sharks; Meaningful Conversations; Journeys to Success: Volume 9, GOD in Business, Purposeful Discussions, The Trust Paradigm and Scars to Stars Volume 3 and lectures at business forums, conferences, and universities. He has been the focus of radio/podcasts and TV with London Live, Talk TV, TEDx and RT Europe’s business documentary across various thought leadership topics and print media with The Executive Magazine, Headspring/FT, Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Raconteur, AMBA, BCS, EuropeanCEO, CEOToday across his authorisms.

A member and fellow of the Institute of Directors, associate of The Business Institute of Management, a cofounder and board member of the Neustar International Security Council (NISC) and a distinguished member of the Advisory Council for The Global Cyber Academy. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration. Having worked for corporate companies Citibank N.A, MICE Group Plc, Enigma Design, MMT Inc, Kaspersky Laboratory, Bartercard Plc, and RG Group around the world, Geoff has vast international experience working with SME and multinational international clients. International clients with which Geoff has worked include the British Government, HP, Compaq, BT, Powergen, Intel, ARM, Wartsila Group, Atari, Barclays Bank, Societe Generale, Western Union, Chase and Volvo.

Geoff has worked in a broad range of industries including software, technology and banking which has given him a range of different experiences and perspectives of what can work, the importance of good people, process and how these can be applied and amplified to deliver results in different scenarios and paradigms. Geoff is known for bringing in a fresh viewpoint and sometimes challenging the status-quo with a strategic approach delivering successful change management programmes and launching companies and products internationally that deliver results. Geoff’s areas of expertise lie in brand strategy, business communications, business integration, business development and improvement, capital raise activities, pre-IPO planning, capital raise transactions, M&A with full P&L responsibility, which ideally equips him to strengthen global companies, develop SME and international business, and marketing strategies.

Linkedin
https://www.linkedin.com/in/geoffsearle


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